Denkins' family receives body, 2 days after shooting

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- A prayer service was held Wednesday morning for 24-year-old Akiel Rakim Lakeith Denkins. Denkins was fatally shot by a Raleigh police officer Monday who was attempting to serve a warrant on a drug charge.

Denkins' mother, Rolanda Byrd, attended the event at Vintage Church in downtown Raleigh. Tears were shed as prayers were said for Denkins' family and for everyone else affected by his death.

"It was beautiful. I appreciate it, and they said kind words that I need to hear today. I'll be receiving my son's body today, and that's my reason for being here this morning," Byrd said.

David Spickard, an elder at Christ Our King Church, said the vigil was for everyone to reflect on what happened.

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Akiel Rakim Lakeith Denkins' mother Rolanda Byrd

"This is a time to mourn. It's a time to mourn and to feel the pain, and the hurt. To pray for Akiel's family, his parents and his friends, his family. To pray for Officer Twitty and his family, and to pray for the chief of police. To pray for neighbor to neighbor, in the South Park community, the people who lost a friend, and a brother," he said.

Cynthia White was in attendance Wednesday morning, and among the group that offered emotional support for Denkins' family.

"What's gonna happen with the children," White said, referring to Denkins' two young kids. "What's gonna happen with the mother, as they're walking through this, as they're walking through the legal process? Who's gonna be with them?

"But it's also about our city" White added. "It's also about the police force. It's about the officer. There are so many people who have been wounded as a result of this, but we certainly cannot forget the young man who lost his life."

The funeral for Denkins will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at Bible Way Temple on Holmes Road in Raleigh.

The Investigation

For the first time since the shooting, Denkins' mother saw her son's body. Family friends tell ABC11 it's at a Raleigh funeral home.

Still, despite promises to release information as it becomes available, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman says they won't provide initial autopsy results until investigators are finished interviewing potential eyewitnesses.

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

She said one thing investigators haven't turned up is video of the shooting.

At the scene on Monday afternoon, there was chatter of multiple videos that captured the chase and the shooting but Freeman says investigators haven't seen any video yet.

"If somebody has video, please turn it over to the SBI for their investigation," Freeman said.

On Wednesday, new search warrants revealed threats against Raleigh police officers.

The warrants say emails and social media posts contain gang slang encouraging others and threatening to commit violence against the lives of unspecified law enforcement officers.

Since the officer-involved shooting, many have been demanding answers and calling for justice, but they're also praying for peace.

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Wednesday's vigil came just hours after police escorted protesters who were marching through downtown Raleigh in response to the shooting.

They shouted, "Black lives matter!" as they blocked the evening commute while shouting their frustrations.

With their fists in the air standing on the steps of the Wake County Courthouse marchers loudly proclaimed, "We're here!"

Protesters march along Garner road in south east Raleigh towards downtown, Tuesday, March 1, 2016.

"I talked to the mother and that's what she asked me. She said 'bishop, just get someone to tell me why they shot my son,' " said Bishop Darnell Dixon of Raleigh's Bible Way Temple.

Dixon spoke to the crowd downtown.

"This is not a sprint, it's a marathon," Dixon said. "We want the city to know that southeast Raleigh, we are present, and we want order."

"It's very important that we send a message to this city and to this world that we're not going to sit back silently while our people are being shot down while they're running or unarmed," said the Rev. Curtis Gatewood with the North Carolina NAACP.

In tapes released Tuesday of RPD radio traffic during the shooting, the tense moments immediately following the gunfire are heard from a police perspective:

"Shots fired, Bragg Street, back side of the house. We've got a black male unresponsive. 20-year old black male, not conscious and breathing."

The tapes don't answer the community's burning questions: did police see Denkins with a gun? Was he running away when he was shot?

City leaders spent Tuesday urging calm and trust in the investigation.

"Our goal is to get through this investigation, to make a determination as to what, if anything, happened that might be criminal," said Lorrin Freeman, Wake County district attorney. "And then to hopefully have our community heal. We are lucky here in Wake County to have a strong community and we need the community now joined together as we go through this process."

Tuesday night's protests were peaceful. And while there was no permit, Raleigh Police did give demonstrators room to march; careful not to escalate an already tense situation.

Earlier Tuesday, Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane called for calm while the incident is investigated and all the facts are gathered and evaluated.

"We are committed to ensuring information is shared as it becomes available," McFarlane said. "Please join us in calm, prayer and patience and please keep all of those involved in this tragedy in your thoughts and prayers."

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