DURHAM — Police Chief Jose Lopez asked for patience Monday as investigations continue into an officers fatal shooting of a stabbing suspect.
The director of the Civil Litigation Clinic at N.C. Central University has called for an independent investigation into the shooting of Jose Adan Cruz Ocampo.
Last week, a coalition of church leaders and neighborhood residents released a Statement of Concern from residents of Old East Durham and Walltown neighborhoods.
People make mistakes, for certain, the statement said. But people can also become corrupt. For this reason, the public trust in any police department depends upon internal processes of review. We are concerned that Chief Lopez spoke publicly in support of his officer before the official investigation was complete. We are, furthermore, concerned that no one who witnessed the shooting finds the Chiefs public account of the events credible.
In an interview with The Herald-Sun soon after the July 27 shooting, Lopez reiterated the departments initial statement that Ocampo was shot in the chest when he failed to heed instructions to put his hands in the air and drop a knife.
The description didnt jibe with witnesses who told an investigator for the NCCU clinic that Ocampo, 33, was handing a knife, handle side out, to officers outside his home at 806 Park Ave. when he was shot. Ocampo was a suspect in a nonfatal stabbing earlier that day.
In his statement Monday, Lopez called the shooting a tragedy.
The taking of a human life, by anyone for any reason, is a tragedy; and the events surrounding the July 27 fatal shooting of Mr. Jose Adan Cruz Ocampo were a tragedy for all parties involved. The thoughts and prayers of the Durham Police Department go out to the family of Mr. Ocampo, as well as to Officer Mbuthia and his family.
While it is natural for the community to want details and answers, we ask that the community and the media allow the (State Bureau of Investigation) investigation to proceed on its own timeline, the statement said. We also strongly encourage any witnesses who may have information to contact the SBI so that the information can be included in the investigation.
About 100 people attended a vigil for Ocampo on Aug. 4, including his two brothers who traveled from Arizona to arrange for the body to be sent home to Honduras.
A fund has been set up to help the family pay the $5,250 cost, said Marcia Owen, the director of the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham, which organized the vigil and gave the brothers money for gas and food.
These are the needs violence creates in our community, Owen said. The Ocampo family should not bear the personal and financial burden of this unexpected tragedy alone.
Donations may be sent to Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, with Ocampo Family on memo line, at 901 W. Chapel Hill St., Suite A, Durham, NC 27701.