Family of teen who died in police custody wants answers


Seventeen-year-old Jesus Huerta, a Riverside High School student, was found dead in the back of a Durham police car in the department headquarters' parking lot after the officer driving said he heard a loud noise and jumped out of the vehicle.

While police have not said how the teen died, a recording of police radio traffic made public Wednesday shows what the officer driving the car told a dispatcher.

"Shots fired," the officer says.

» Click here to listen to the radio calls «

The dispatcher asked if he was hurt and Officer Samuel Duncan said he didn't believe so.

Duncan said Huerta had a gunshot wound and was "not breathing."

Huerta's mother said Wednesday she's dealing with a lot of regret and putting part of the blame on herself. She says she was the one who called the police to come get her son. She says her son was threatening to run away.

The mother told ABC11 that she would have never called authorities if she knew her son would end up dead.

She is blaming police, but the Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez says at this point there is no evidence one of his officer's fired a gun.

"It does not appear that a Durham police officer fired a weapon during this incident," Lopez said. "I want to reassure the community that this incident is being thoroughly and completely investigated in an effort to determine exactly what happened. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Huerta family during this difficult time."

The boy's family says they don't know if the teen had a gun on him, but they do know something went wrong.

"They're supposed to help us -- for him to be safe," said Jesus' sister, Evelin Huerta. "I think that's what they're there for to help us not for the next two three hours you know what 'Your brother's deceased. Your son is dead.'"

"You got scared. You jumped out of the car that doesn't make any sense," said Jesus' girlfriend Katya Mendoza. "How do you feel if you lost someone you cared about?"

The State Bureau of Investigation is reviewing the death.

Huerta was arrested earlier this year for possession of burglary tools and spent some time in jail in 2012 for possession of marijuana.

An autopsy is currently under way to determine exactly how Huerta died.

Duncan is on paid administrative leave while the investigation is underway.

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