by Ken Fine
So when, at the tail end of a press conference called by the lawyers representing the Clark family in the aftermath of an officer-involved shooting that eyewitnesses claim was unjust, the floor was opened for comment, Lloyd cried out. She couldn’t hold it in any longer.
Whether or not Barkley is, in fact, a “crooked cop” has yet to be proven, however, several city residents interviewed by the INDY say they have had run-ins with the officer—from a young man who said Barkley “busted my eye” with a flashlight to a young woman who said she was stopped and “pulled out my car” for no reason in the vicinity of McDougald Terrace. And the officer was accused, in 2006, of using excessive force when he used a flashlight to break up a fight between two teenage girls outside of Jordan High School—an incident that left a fifteen-year-old with a fractured skill.
Those who gathered Wednesday afternoon—a legal team from the Southern Coalition for Social Justice joined grieving family members, friends, activists and neighbors Wednesday afternoon to unwrap their emotions and demand justice for Clark—revealed more allegations, and detailed a “history with these officers” including a 2014 incident that saw Barkley and the other two men involved in Clark’s death, M.D. Southerland and C.Q. Goss, arrest three people in the Bentwood community “after tasing and beating three generations of one family.”
Ian Mance, one of the attorneys who represented the Alston family in the wake of that incident, said the police acted improperly back then and “injected themselves into a situation that didn’t require police at all.”
“When it was all said and done, they had knocked Mrs. Alston off of her feet—a sixty-one-year-old woman—they had tased her fourteen-year-old grandson … and they had also tased the child’s father. And after they had done all this, they realized how bad this looked and so they huddled together and decided to bring criminal charges against all three members of the family.”Those charges would later be dismissed by the Durham District Attorney’s Office and the officers became the subjects of an internal investigation. Southerland was disciplined, but the details of his punishment were never disclosed. Barkley and Goss were cleared, a result Mance blames on a corrupt system.
“We have had many conversations with the city of Durham, specifically the Durham Police Department … about these very officers and we stated in no uncertain terms a year-and-a-half ago that we believed these officers represented a threat to this community,” he said. “I feel that in this case, our institutions failed us. These officers had no business being on the street after what happened to the Alston family."
But the coalition’s words fell on deaf ears. And then, last week, those same officers showed up at McDougald Terrace in an unmarked car. Just what happened after they arrived is still under investigation by the SBI.The five-day report released late Tuesday evening did little to clarify things. Dave Hall, another attorney from the coalition, said it contained “spotty and inconsistent facts” and omitted the answers to critical questions.
“This report is very minimal on actual facts,” he said. “What we have in the actual report is roughly two lines of substance.”
So he called on the DPD to conduct gunshot residue tests on Clark, his clothing and the officers. He asked that DNA tests be conducted on the gun police say they found near the victim’s body. And he demanded that an inquiry be made into past allegations of excessive force that have been made against Barkley, Southerland and Goss—that those findings be released to the public.
“We can do better by this community. We have to do better by this community. This is part of Durham. If we can build an eighty-million-dollar police department, we can build twenty-six-story high-rises, certainly we can do better by this community. I challenge our city leaders … to do better.”
Only one member of the Durham City Council was on hand to hear that challenge. But Don Moffitt declined to comment on the incident or investigation. He, he said, was simply there to “listen and learn.”Had he walked over to the makeshift memorial resting under the tree where Clark's body fell a week ago, he could have learned about the thirty-four-year-old's favorite candy and drink (samples were left there) or how he was the kind of young man "who was always helping the kids." He would have heard a woman say he was a model father and defended his friends sometimes to a fault. But those memories ultimately gave way to more emotion.