Durham Police Department Clears Cops in Shooting Death of Frank Clark | News

Durham Police Department Clears Cops in Shooting Death of Frank Clark


In a press release today, the Durham Police Department announced that its internal review had concluded that the three officers involved in the shooting death of Frank Clark in McDougald Terrace in November did not violate department policies or procedures.

See related PDF ClarkFindingsJune9.pdf
As the INDY reported at the time, witness accounts of the shooting seemed to contradict what the police department said in its initial five-day report.
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.” 
In addition, Clark’s autopsy appeared inconsistent with the police report, as the INDY reported.
Some self-described witnesses say it was four shots, others five. But they agree that Barkley is the shooter and that he shot Clark in the back as he ran. Clark lies lifeless on the ground in front of Building 60, having succumbed to gunshot wounds to the back of his thigh and the top of his head.

According to the autopsy report released last week by the N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the shot to the thigh shattered Clark's femur, making it plausible that the wound forced him to fall toward the ground, leaving the top left of his head exposed to a second, fatal bullet, which the autopsy indicates was fired at a downward angle. While the autopsy could not determine which bullet was fired first, this theory aligns with descriptions of the shooting by several purported eyewitnesses, as well as a postmortem photograph of Clark reviewed by the INDY.
Here’s the police account taken from today’s press release from the DPD:
Officer Barkley, who has several years of experience working in McDougald Terrace and thus, significant familiarity with the community, began driving down Truman Street when he stopped and noticed a man, whom he did not recognize, standing near a dumpster in the parking lot. When a female resident came out of her apartment to throw away her trash, Officer Barkley noticed that the man walked away only to immediately return to the same spot by the dumpster once the resident had re-entered her apartment.

Deciding to speak with the individual, later identified as Mr. Frank Clark, Officer Barkley pulled his unmarked vehicle into the parking lot. As Officer Barkley, who was wearing a full police uniform, rolled his window down and became visible to Mr. Clark, Clark immediately turned and walked away between two buildings. Officer Barkley exited his vehicle, but lost sight of Mr. Clark.

Officer Barkley radioed the other officers with a description of the man who appeared to be avoiding him. Within a few seconds, Officer Southerland saw the man in front of Building-60. Officer Southerland rolled down his passenger window and engaged Mr. Clark in conversation. After exiting his vehicle, the two met on the sidewalk and continued to talk. Realizing that Mr. Clark appeared nervous by his trembling voice and shaking hands, Officer Southerland reassured Mr. Clark that he was not under arrest nor being detained; that he only wanted to talk with him briefly about recent incidents in the area. Officer Southerland stated Mr. Clark seemed to relax at this point. During the conversation, Officer Southerland observed that Mr. Clark had his hands in his pants pockets and appeared to be trying to adjust or hold onto something near his waistband. Officer Goss arrived while Officer Southerland was talking to Mr. Clark, butremained seated in his vehicle. Officer Southerland then called Officer Barkley to let him know that he was speaking with the man Officer Barkley had attempted to approach earlier and asked if Officer Barkley wanted to talk to him as well. After Officer Barkley indicated that he did, Officer Southerland asked Mr. Clark if he was willing to talk to Officer Barkley. Mr. Clark responded, “Oh Bark. Yeah, I know Bark.” Officer Southerland leaned against his car at this time to wait on Officer Barkley.

Officer Barkley arrived a short time later and began to talk to Mr. Clark. Officer Goss got out of his car about the same time Officer Barkley arrived, but remained by his vehicle. As Officer Barkley began to make inquiries about what Clark was doing in the area, Officer Barkley observed that Mr. Clark seemed to be unusually nervous by his shaking hands and trembling voice. Once Officer Barkley asked Mr. Clark why he was so nervous and why he had tried to avoid him earlier, Officer Barkley noted that Mr. Clark then became even more nervous as his entire body began to shake. Officer Barkley stated that he asked these questions loudly to heighten the awareness of the other officers.

In response, Officer Southerland began approaching Officer Barkley and Mr. Clark. Concerned for his safety, Officer Barkley told Mr. Clark he was going to do a quick pat-down for weapons. Mr. Clark raised his forearms only, keeping his upper arms and elbows close to his body. Mr. Clark only proceeded to inch his arms up as Officer Barkley continued to instruct him to raise them higher. As Officer Barkley reached in towards Mr. Clark’s body to begin the pat-down, Clark punched Officer Barkley in the face and a struggle ensued. Officer Barkley attempted to control Mr. Clark from the front while Officer Southerland approached from behind to assist. Officer Southerland described that he could feel Mr. Clark repeatedly trying to yank something from his waistband. After several hard pulls, Mr. Clark fired his gun and, at the same time, Officer Southerland felt sudden and intense pain in his knee.

After the shot was fired, Officer Barkley backed away from Mr. Clark not knowing for certain from where the shot came. Officer Barkley then saw that Mr. Clark had a gun and was still struggling with Officer Southerland. While the struggle continued, Mr. Clark pointed his gun at Officer Barkley who drew his weapon in response. Officer Barkley did not fire his weapon fearing he would strike Officer Southerland. Officer Southerland, believing he was shot as the pain in his knee intensified, pushed Mr. Clark away from him. As Southerland was falling, he drew his weapon as well. As Clark turned to flee, he pointed his gun back in the direction of Officer Barkley, and fired a second shot causing Officer Barkley to begin firing at Mr. Clark. Officer Barkley fired six shots, striking Mr. Clark twice.

Officer Barkley and Officer Goss then went to Officer Southerland to assess his condition and began to call for back-up and EMS. Once they determined Officer Southerland was not in fact shot, but had apparently sustained a serious knee injury during the struggle, they began to attend to Mr. Clark and secure the scene.
The police were apparently unable to find any witnesses: “After two separate community canvasses by the State Bureau of Investigation, and press releases by the Durham Police Department requesting assistance from anyone with first- hand information, no citizens who actually witnessed the incident were identified.”

The INDY will have more on this story.

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