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

December 22, 2013

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.

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