Curtis Mangum's family says officers more interested in arrests than saving a life

RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) -- Curtis Mangum's family was called to the Wake County Justice Center on Wednesday morning for an 11 a.m. meeting with District Attorney Lorrin Freeman.

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The DA wanted to notify the family before the public found out that no charges would be filed against the Raleigh police officers who last saw Mangum alive.

The case is now closed. The family did not like what they heard.

"When (Freeman) walked in, (it seemed) to me, she already knew what she was going to say," said Mangum's mother, Betty Johnson.

The family said they believe the RPD officers who handcuffed and detained Mangum on January 11 on drug suspicion had good reason to believe Mangum swallowed cocaine to conceal it from police.

But Mangum's family said officers were more interested in making a drug arrest than getting Mangum to the hospital, just two miles away.

"I understand he may have swallowed drugs or whatever. But, for them not to take him on to WakeMed to be treated - he probably would still be alive today," Johnson said.

The officer's alleged negligence to get Mangum medical attention was a point of contention in the family's meeting with Freeman.

"The conversation really got heated because (Freeman) started from the autopsy report, not the conversation immediately as to (the officers) who were in the car," said Kimberly Muktarian, a Mangum family advocate from Save Our Sons.

In her public report, the district attorney stated that after the arresting officers found marijuana and a half gram of cocaine on Mangum, the officers specifically asked, if Mangum had swallowed anything.

The report said Mangum replied no.

"Out of the four officers, they repeatedly asked him because they suspected that he did. And despite that intuition, they still took him to the precinct," Muktarian said.

After arriving at RPD's Southeast District Station for questioning, surveillance video shows paramedics arriving minutes later. Mangum's condition quickly worsened. Hours later he was dead.

The cause of death according to the medical examiner's report was acute cocaine and alcohol intoxication. The coroner found a tied plastic bag, apparently drugs, in Mangum's stomach.

The family cited a different cause of death; blaming the system's varying degrees of drug enforcement and drug addiction.

"The priorities are different. Of course scary to say, but black lives do not matter, but they are an afterthought," Muktarian said.

Despite the family's displeasure about the DA's decision, there would be no marches or rallies Wednesday night. Instead, the family spent the evening in what they called "quiet reflection;" thinking about their next move in what they say will be an ongoing campaign for criminal-justice reform.
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