Durham Police Chief Lopez issues statement regarding Huerta vigil

Grieving relatives of Durham teen found dead in the back of a police car aren't the only ones demanding answers.
December 23, 2013 3:55:50 PM PST
Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez responded Sunday to concerns over last week's vigil for Jesus Huerta that turned violent.

On Facebook, Lopez pledged to review his officers' actions during that protest.

ABC11 cameras were in the thick of it Thursday night as officers set-off tear gas into the crowds.

Chief Lopez says the decision to use force was not taken lightly.

Thursday night's vigil was in response to the death of Jesus Huerta.

Huerta died while handcuffed in the back of a Durham police squad car from what police say was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Grieving relatives of Huerta are not the only ones demanding answers.

Some Durham City Council leaders are now saying they can no longer wait for a final report from the SBI.

They want the Durham Police Department to release the findings of its own investigation.    

"We need truth, justice, and we need reconciliation," said Durham City Council member Steve Schewel.

Controversy surrounding the mysterious death of Huerta has reached a boiling point.

Durham City Council member Eddie Davis' patience is wearing thin with the police department's piecemeal approach to information about Huerta's death.

"We don't have the protocols I think we need from the police department," Davis said.

Davis joins Durham Mayor Bill Bell and others in push for full disclosure with the hope Chief Lopez will lead the way.

"I'm not at that point where I would ask for that resignation...if we don't get answers soon there should be some repercussions for not doing so," Davis said.

The city requested the SBI investigation immediately after the incident. Since then, Chief Lopez has said the gunshot wound was self-inflicted with gunpowder residue found on the teen's glove.

However, Huerta's family and Durham City Council want to see the full internal report sooner rather than later with or without the SBI.

"We need to be able to say, okay, here's the information that we have...if we know something is a fact, we need to get it out there," Schewel said.

The SBI will only say its investigation is ongoing.

City leaders say in the backdrop of all this is a family approaching the holidays without their loved one.

Huerta's sister told ABC11 her family will not be celebrating Christmas this year.

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