Vigil honors Honduran man fatally shot by Durham police officer

mschultz@newsobserver.comAugust 5, 2013 

— Camryn Smith stepped outside before letting her family’s new puppy out and nodded at her neighbor across the street. She stepped back inside and about five minutes later heard several gunshots.

Her youngest daughter, looking out the window, said the neighbor was lying on the ground.

“That’s when I screamed, ‘Call the police!’ ” Smith said, “and my (other) daughter said, ‘They’re already here.’ ”

The neighbor was Jose Adan Cruz Ocampo, who was shot and killed by a Durham police officer that morning. Smith was among about 100 people who attended a prayer vigil for Ocampo in Old East Durham on Sunday night.

Ocampo was a suspect in a stabbing and was shot July 27 when he failed to drop a knife as police confronted him outside his home at 804 Park Ave., according to police. The stabbing victim was cut on the face and taken to the hospital, where he was treated and released, police said.

According to witnesses, Ocampo, who was from Honduras, didn’t understand the officers shouting at him in English and was offering the knife, handle side out, to the officers when he was shot. The N.C. Central University Civil Litigation Clinic has called for an independent investigation of the shooting.

On Monday, a police spokeswoman said Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez would not comment on the case.

Sunday’s vigil was sponsored by the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham.

As people gathered, Ocampo’s roommate, David Bautista Castillo, sat on the brick front step, holding his head in his hands. His eyes were bloodshot and teary.

“Lo quiero much, mucho,” he said in Spanish. I love him very much, very much.

He pointed to his chest, his lower abdomen, his left arm and his head – four shots, with the head shot the fatal injury, according to a death certificate obtained by the Civil Litigation Clinic.

“Sangre en la boca,” Bautista said. Blood in the mouth.

Ocampo’s older brothers, Manny and Oscar, traveled two days from Arizona to retrieve his body. Manny’s wife and Ocampo’s two nephews also made the trip.

“He was a calm person, a hard worker,” Manny Ocampo told the crowd – black, white and Latino – gathered on the gravel front yard. “He didn’t deserve to die.”

At first, Manny Ocampo did not believe the neighbor who told him his brother had been killed.

“My mind wouldn’t allow me to believe it,” he said in Spanish. “I couldn’t believe it until I went to the funeral home and saw my brother dead.”

Ocampo, 33, had a wife and son who remained in Honduras when he came to the United States to work, according to Father Bill McIntyre of Immaculate Conception Church in Durham. McIntyre, in a friar’s brown robe, interpreted the brothers’ words for the crowd.

“It’s very confusing about what happened, and very sad,” he said.

Schultz: 919-932-2003

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