Did Jesus Huerta, 17, kill himself or did police kill him? EDITED BELOW

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Good Evening:

How is it possible to shoot yourself in the head while seated in the back seat of a police cruiser with your wrists cuffed behind your back after you were searched for weapons and none were found?

Chief Jose Lopez of the Durham Police Department in Durham, NC says Jesus Huerta, 17, did that after being arrested on an outstanding warrant for second-degree trespassing issued last July.

Here’s Chief Lopez,

Chief Lopez said Huerta was searched by police prior to the shooting incident and the weapon was not detected. He said it remains unclear where the teen had the weapon.

“I know that it is hard for people not in law enforcement to understand how someone could be capable of shooting themselves while handcuffed behind the back,” Lopez said. “While incidents like this are not common, they unfortunately have happened in other jurisdictions in the past.”

CNN recently reported,

The chief said at the news conference that gunshot residue tests were conducted on Huerta and the arresting officer, and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation “found that Huerta was wearing gloves and that his gloves had a saturation of gunshot residue on it. Officer Duncan’s revealed that he had no gunshot residue on his hands,” Lopez said.

I am not impressed by the gunshot-residue evidence since he probably removed Huerta’s gloves when he handcuffed him. He could have put the gloves on, fired the shot, and replaced the gloves on Huerta’s hands or he could have fired the shot and used Huerta’s gloves to wipe the residue from his hands.

I do not believe Huerta somehow managed to conceal the gun so that the officer missed it during the search before he was handcuffed and placed in the cruiser.

Officers go rogue sometimes and when they do, they carry all sorts of things like a small quantity of crack or powder cocaine and the occasional firearm to throw down on a suspect with a prior felony conviction or someone they decide to kill.

Huerta’s family, friends and supporters are calling bullshit and demanding a federal investigation into the shooting. Demonstrations in downtown Durham have turned violent with demonstrators accusing police of police brutality and police accusing demonstrators of throwing rocks and bottles.

Police arrested at least six people last Thursday night.

The demonstrators have vowed to march through downtown on the 19th of each month until they get answers and justice is done.

The case is being investigated by the State Bureau of Investigators, but no report has been issued.

(h/t to Wendy Davis at Firedoglake for informing me about this matter)

EDIT: Upon reflection, I have deleted the last sentence, which erroneously asserted that Durham police had killed three civilians since July including Huerta, because it was erroneous and replaced it with the following:

According to CNN:

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation has looked into three deaths in five months involving Durham police officers, and two of those killed were Latinos, according to CNN affiliate WRAL.

I apologize for the error.

10 Responses to Did Jesus Huerta, 17, kill himself or did police kill him? EDITED BELOW

  1. I read that young Jose was picked up because his family reported him as a runaway. He was arrested because of an outstanding trespassing charge. Under no circumstances would a police officer handcuff a kid wearing gloves. It would be easier for him to slip out of the handcuffs in gloves.

    This reminds me a lot of the kid that the Cincinnati police killed in 2001 that led to riot and a federal lawsuit.


  2. Malisha says:

    Wow. Re: That fuckin’-duck guy with the beard. Assholes get a lot more attention than they deserve. I know a woman in South Carolina whose son is being taken away because she doesn’t have enough money for a lawyer, and SHE doesn’t get national attention, as does some miscellaneous bible-guy who shoots his mouth off with gay-bashing stupidisms. Damn!

  3. lurker says:

    “While incidents like this are not common, they unfortunately have happened in other jurisdictions in the past.”

    Ummmm, yeah. Seems like it used to happen from time to time down in the old South. Black folks were particularly adept.

  4. lairdbearly says:

    Sounds slimar to one case in missipi in 2012..

  5. kllypyn says:

    It is impossible to shoot ones self while your hands are hand cuffed behind your back. Those officers need to think up a better lie. AND WHY DO THEY EVEN WAIST TIME GOING AFTER SOMEONE FOR TRESPASSING?

    • Good points. 1) He was patted down for weapons before he was handcuffed, and knowing how cops operate from personal experience, chances are he was searched thoroughly, in addition to being ‘patted down.’

      2) I don’t buy a single word of the ‘gloves’ story. Not a word.

      3) How the hell does somebody handcuffed behind the back retrieve a gun? From where?

      4) How in the FUCK does somebody handcuffed behind the back wearing gloves manage to shoot himself in the head?

      and finally…

      5) Nobody on the face of the planet would fatally shoot himself in the fucking head over a bullshit misdemeanor trespass charge!

      This was a murder. Plain and simple. I do not believe a single word the lying cops say.

      • Malisha says:

        Cops in Harford County, MD picked up a guy for trespassing (no criminal record, veteran) and killed him the next morning before he got arraigned. The county got sued of course but what do the care? They pay off with the taxpayers’ money and make it a secret deal so the taxpayers don’t even learn how much they paid for the cops to have the privilege of murdering throw-aways. The charge “trespassing” means the cops don’t think you look classy enough to be wherever you happen to be, and therefore think killing you will be a freebie. Kinda like “Uh, there’s been a lot of break-ins in my neighborhood and I see a real suspicious guy…he looks like he’s up to no good.”

        • Right. Second-degree trespassing is notably enforced among the homeless and mentally ill. Again, they know they can 1) kill for fun and get away with it, because these folks don’t have much of a voice or 2) They can warehouse these folks in the county jails for extended periods in abysmal conditions, as income widgets for the county.

          This is deplorable, and it has got to stop.

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