Denkins case: Police union standing behind officer

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Akiel Denkins' mother, Rolanda Byrd, finally got to see her son's body Wednesday.

Raleigh Police Senior Officer D.C. Twiddy, who fired the gun that killed 24-year-old Akiel Denkins on Monday, is telling his attorney that he shot in self-defense. The police union is standing by its officer.

Meanwhile, Denkins' mother, Rolanda Byrd, was in tears and wrapped in hugs outside Wednesday's prayer vigil for her son, who she says was shot in the back while running away from police.

For the first time since the shooting, Akiel Denkins' mother, Rolanda Byrd saw her son's body.

Now, a different story is emerging from Raleigh's police union, which says Officer Twiddy fired in self-defense while trying to arrest Denkins on a felony drug charge.

In a statement to ABC11, the union said "on Monday, officer Twiddy had to do the hardest thing that is sometimes required as a police officer... We believe that officers don't leave their rights at home when they put on their uniform... Police officers have the right to self-defense."

Bishop Darnell Dixon of Raleigh's Bible Way Temple, said "the truth is the truth across the board."

The church leader said the family is launching its own investigation into the shooting and still urging the State Bureau of Investigation and the Wake County District Attorney to speed up the release of information.

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Wake County district attorney Lorrin Freeman told ABC11's Jon Camp that she's committed to transparency. But, there's at least another dozen interviews with witnesses to complete.

"We don't want information out in the public that might have the ability of somehow jeopardizing the integrity of those interviews or the investigation at large," Freeman said.

But as Denkins' mother sat down inside the community prayer vigil at Raleigh's Vintage Church, she confirmed the state has turned over what for her is the most important piece of the puzzle: the remains of her son.

"I'll be receiving my son's body today and that's my reason for being here this morning," Byrd said.

With the body released to Denkins' family, they have set funeral services for Friday at 1 p.m. at Bible Way Temple on Holmes Street in southeast Raleigh.

In the meantime, the initial findings from Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown are due to be released Monday.

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