Durham Police employee charged with murder in case where another man was initially accused

Samantha Kummerer Image
Saturday, December 3, 2022
DPD worker charged with murder after another man was initially accused
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A non-sworn Durham Police Department employee is facing a murder charge in a case where another man was falsely accused.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A non-sworn Durham Police Department employee is facing a murder charge in a case where another man was falsely accused.

The shooting took place on Nov. 22 about 11:45 p.m. in the 300 block of Gary Street. The victim was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Police identified him as Tyler Young, 25, of Durham.

Hours later, police announced they had arrested a 51-year-old man and charged him with murder based on an independent eyewitness identification.

But police said further investigation determined that the detained man was "not in fact" the suspect in the homicide.

Marcus Woods
Durham Police Department

DPD said investigators then contacted the Durham County District Attorney's Office to have the charges dismissed. The man was released from the Durham County Jail within 24 hours of his arrest, DPD said.

On Wednesday, Durham Police arrested a non-sworn DPD worker, Marcus Keith Anthony Woods, 27, of Durham. He was charged with murder in Young's death.

Woods has worked as a procurement tech at DPD since January 2020, according to city employment records obtained Friday by the I-Team.

DPD declined to comment further on the mix-up and said the investigation is ongoing. No other details were immediately released.

Chris Mumma is the executive director of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence. She said the news of wrongful arrest did not shock her as her center has worked to overturn numerous wrongful convictions in Durham County.

"There's several cases in Durham where we have real concerns about people who have been in prison who are innocent for decades," Mumma said.

While she said in this case the initial man arrested is lucky to have only been wrongly detained for 24 hours, it still has an effect.

"It has an impact on the individual. It has an impact on their families. It has an impact on their friends. It has an impact on public confidence in the justice system, you know, when the public can't be sure that we're getting it right," she said. "We have to be more honest about how these mistakes happen and what we're doing to keep it from happening again."

She said she is curious what informant DPD used to arrest the 51-year-old man and hopes the department is reviewing what happened.

"I don't think that should be enough evidence to arrest somebody and clearly there was stronger evidence for this other person they arrested that they just missed in the beginning," she said.

She said she thinks all agencies could adopt certain practices and policies to reduce the number of incorrect arrests.

"Rush to judgment is a big problem. So, taking a breath, having somebody else look at the evidence, you know, and play devil's advocate for whether this is really a case that should go forward, particularly in a murder case. So, I think there are definitely controls that can be put in place," Mumma said.

She also said she believes recording all the conversations and interviews police conduct could help reduce wrongful convictions.

"Things happen, human error happens, the process needs to be improved," Mumma said, "The only way we are ever going to improve the process is if we are willing to be honest about the errors that happen and do a retrospective look at how it happened in the first place."