Police, Witnesses Have Different Accounts of Fatal Officer-Involved Shooting | News

Police, Witnesses Have Different Accounts of Fatal Officer-Involved Shooting

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PHOTO BY BEN MCKEOWN
  • Photo by Ben McKeown
Less than twenty-four hours after the Durham City Council voted 5-2 to spend $1.4 million dollars on hundreds of body cameras to be worn by its police officers, eyewitnesses and city cops are at odds over just how an officer-involved shooting that claimed the life of Frank “Scooter Bug” Clark unfolded this afternoon in McDougald Terrace.

One witness said it started when an unmarked police car was seen “circling the block”—prompting “everyone who was out here to take to running.” But one man, Clark, remained—walking away slowly until he “locked eyes” with an officer he knew. The man, the witness said, fled and moments later, five gunshots rang out—one of them resulting in Clark’s death.

The officer who fired the fatal shot, she and three other witnesses said, is known around the neighborhood as “Broccoli”—a man they say “always be harassing people.” But the scene these women described was not the one police chief C.J. Davis characterized as she read from a prepared news released given to members of the media who gathered at the Durham Police Headquarters late this afternoon.

The release states that police “encountered a man on foot around 12:30 p.m. and stopped to speak with him. During the conversation, the man made a sudden movement toward his waistband and a struggle ensued. During the struggle, the officers heard a gunshot. In response, an officer fired his weapon.”

But did Clark have a gun? Did he fire at the officers? Davis would only say that a gun “which was not the property of the Durham Police Department” was found at the scene and did not yet know whether it had been fired during the incident. But she did say that none of the officers were struck by a bullet (one officer, however, suffered an undisclosed leg injury and was transported to the hospital).

And when asked by the INDY if it was “common practice” for Durham police to “start firing if they hear a gunshot,” the chief said “if it’s relatively close or if I feel that that gunshot came from the individual I’m encountering."

So then the officers must have believed that Clark had fired a shot at them before at least one of them (Davis would not reveal how many officers discharged their respective firearms) gunned Clark down, right?

“That’s only an assumption at this point,” Davis replied.

Speaking of assumptions, one can also assume that the residents of McDougald Terrace were stunned by the use of lethal force during the incident. At the scene, one woman was visibly upset and, at one point, screamed that the police had “killed my fucking cousin.”

And a twenty-nine-year-old who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation from the police, was enraged by the sight of police officers securing the crime scene while they joked, used their cellphones and engaged in casual conversation with one another. Fact check: the INDY witnessed this behavior.

“You think they care about us? Look at them—on their phones, laughing,” she said.

Her cousin then added, [The cops] are having a ball. They ain’t doing anything. And this body is still over there.”

Davis said the State Bureau of Investigation has taken over the case and the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave. The organization FADE (Fostering Alternative Drug Enforcement) isn't satisfied.


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