Huerta family wants answers following internal affairs report

Jesus Huerta's family says the internal affairs report made public last week "glossed over" some statements.
January 13, 2014 8:07:53 PM PST
The Durham district attorney's office is expected to weigh in Tuesday on who is to blame for the death of Jesus Huerta in November.

Meanwhile, a fiery email to Durham city leaders from the family of the Durham teenager killed in police custody is raising new questions.

? Click here to see the email. ?

Jesus Huerta's family says the Durham Police Department's internal affairs report made public last week "glossed over" statements from Huerta's friend who was also arrested. That friend said neither he nor Huerta had a weapon.

The hope was that last week's news conference would be of some comfort to outspoken critics and Huerta's family. The report said Huerta was the victim of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound while handcuffed.

Also at issue is whether officers knew Huerta's family feared he was suicidal based on their call to 911.

"However, that information not relayed to officers. They thought they were dealing with a runaway," said the Durham Police Department's Laura Clayton last week.

That's exactly what they thought, according to audio recordings of police radio communications that ill-fated morning,

"He's just going to be a runaway. I don't have further," said a dispatcher.

"It's a runaway. There's not going to be any other issues," said another dispatcher.

It was only until after the teen was taken into custody and on the way to department headquarters about a mile away when the arresting officer learned more.

"Let his parents know he'll be at Durham County Jail," said the Officer Samuel Duncan.

"Yea, she don't care. She's probably going to do commitment papers for his drug use. She said he's got a real problem with taking pills and smoking and stuff. He went for a clinic for five days and then kept using," said another officer.

Huerta's family believes that is proof the department failed to protect the troubled teen from himself. Their other concern is the weapon found inside the squad car.

While police say the vehicle was thoroughly searched, Huerta's family points to his friend's claims, who was also arrested, that neither of the teens were armed.

"I have met with the family a couple of times," said Durham City Councilman Steve Schewel.

Meanwhile, Schewel is working with Huerta family and their supporters to arrange a peaceful vigil in honor of the teen.

"They really want to do this so they can help our community heal so they can heal themselves," said Schewel.

The vigil for Huerta is set for Jan. 19 at Immaculate Conception Church starting at 6:45 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.

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