Autopsy sheds new light on Durham police shooting

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Frank Clark

An autopsy report released by the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner Wednesday says a man who died during a struggle with Durham police officers November 22 was shot in the head and right thigh. It also says 34-year-old Frank Clark had cocaine, methadone, and oxycodone in his system.

Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield's office said he was reviewing the report and would not comment on it Wednesday.

In a statement, David Hall, an attorney for Clark's family said "the autopsy report does not reveal anything we did not generally know. The autopsy report confirms what we already believe: Frank Clark was shot from behind while fleeing police."

The autopsy says Clark was shot in the top of the head and "the direction of the bullet's passage was rightward, downward, and slightly backwards." For the thigh wound, the autopsy says "the direction of the bullet's travel was frontward, leftward, and minimally downward."

AUTOPSY REPORT FOR FRANK CLARK - CAUTION GRAPHIC (.pdf)

In a statement, the Durham Police Department said "the Medical Examiner's report is just one of several elements of the completed investigation that we are all anticipating. The SBI has not concluded their investigation, it would be premature for the DPD to provide any comments about these findings at this time."

Clark, 34, was fatally shot in the McDougald Terrace neighborhood. A report on the shooting issued by the Durham Police Department soon after the said officers M.D. Southerland and C.S. Barkley started talking to Clark when Clark reached for his waistband and the struggle started.

READ THE FULL REPORT HERE (.pdf)

During the struggle, the officers heard a shot and Southerland fell to the ground.

Barkley fired his weapon in response.

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A third officer, C.Q. Goss, radioed for help.

The report says a loaded 9 millimeter handgun was found on the ground next to Clark.

It had been reported stolen in January.

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As EMS treated Clark at the scene, a white, rock-like substance wrapped in a plastic bag fell out of Clark's pants, the report said.

The gun and the bag were sent to the SBI for examination.

The Durham Police Department's Professional Standards Division and the SBI are investigating, as is standard practice in an officer-involved shooting.

The results will be sent to the Durham County district attorney for review.

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