NAACP calls for transparent investigation of Raleigh police shooting

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Rolanda Byrd stands next to Rev. William Barber (WTVD)

The NAACP and local pastors are rallying around Akiel Denkins' family as the investigation continues in the officer-involved shooting. Neighbors continue to react at the site of the memorial near Bragg St.

During the NAACP's press conference Tuesday morning, Denkins mother, Rolanda Byrd, was wiping away tears. She still had not been contacted to identify her son's body.

"I still haven't gotten a phone call to say that was my son that died out there yesterday," Byrd said.

She is asking for answers with the help of pastors and members of the NAACP.

"Truth. No matter where it leads - truth. No matter where the finger points-truth," Rev. Dr. William Barber, II stated.

Transparency in the investigation is what they want. But some in the neighborhood have already taken sides, blaming Raleigh Police and city leaders for ignoring the issues in the southeast Raleigh community. "Whoever shot him needs to be punished," says Brittany Little, a friend of the Denkins. "That is justice for me."

"It's our community. It's our people. And sadly it's our youth," says Althea Owens. "This is who we have to depend on when we get old. Look around-who do they have to depend on. And that's sad-because they feel hopeless with no way out."

RELATED: Vigil held at site of police-involved shooting

Barber said he was encouraged by a statement from Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck Brown Monday saying the State Bureau of Investigation has been called in to investigate the case.

Just after 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, the SBI sent out a news release officially identifying the dead man as Akiel Rakim Lakeith Denkins. It said Rolanda Byrd was notified after the morning NAACP news conference.

Denkins was shot in southeast Raleigh close to Bragg Street and S. East Street around noon when an officer tried to serve a warrant on a felony drug charge.

While the family has claimed Denkins was unarmed, Chief Deck Brown said a gun was found near the body.

The officer has been identified as senior officer 29-year-old D.C. Twiddy by the Raleigh Police Department. He's been placed on administrative leave, which is standard in officer-related shootings.

ABC11 found that Denkins has a lengthy criminal record, with more than a dozen arrests dating back five years. He's been arrested and charged with among other things, possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine, carrying a concealed firearm, and assault on a female.


But at his news conference Tuesday, Barber said Denkins was "first and foremost a human being."

"Do not dehumanize this man or his family," said Barber.

"There are some questions that do need to be asked," said Barber. "Was he unarmed? Was he running away? Who found the gun? Did the gun have prints on it? Whose prints? What is the history of the gun? Again, a warrant for arrest is not a license to kill."

Barber said his organization is "not making a predetermined decision," but would be watching the case closely and providing support to Denkins' family.

"We have to have transparency in this investigation," said Barber - continuing the NAACP lawyers are preparing a list of questions to submit to investigators "in order for the community to have confidence and this family to have confidence in the investigation."

Barber told reporters the case further underlines the need for police body cameras in Raleigh.

Denkins was the father of two sons and turned 24 on Feb. 8.

Pastors and the NAACP are urging calm and patience. Community leaders say they will look at the investigation into Denkins death with scrutiny.

Pastors say they have asked Raleigh's police chief for Officer Twiddy's personnel file. They want to know his training record and if he's had any complaints.

The NAACP and pastors also say they will meet with attorneys for the family on Thursday at Bible Way Temple to discuss their next steps.

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