Huerta family seeks FBI inquiry into Durham police

jwise@newsobserver.comDecember 10, 2013 

— The family of Jesus Huerta and a national Latino organization have petitioned federal authorities to investigate the teen’s death while in Durham police custody last month.

Huerta’s mother and several other family members, along with Erica Scott Pacheco of Presente.org, an advocacy group, delivered a petition to the FBI’s Cary office Tuesday morning. According to Pacheco, the petition had more than 18,000 signatures.

“As expected, the FBI told us that their policy prohibits them from commenting whether or not they will open a case,” Pacheco said. “They did respectfully welcome the petition and information the family and I shared.”

FBI spokeswoman Shelley Lynch said the bureau will review the information.

“The Federal Bureau of Investigation takes accusations of civil-rights violations very seriously,” Lynch said.

Huerta, 17, died of a gunshot wound suffered while sitting in the back of a Durham patrol car Nov. 19. Durham Police Chief Jose L. Lopez has said there is no indication that the officer who had Huerta in custody fired a weapon, but neither the police nor the State Bureau of Investigation has released any further information on the circumstances of his death.

The petition ( bit.ly/1aSRfJY) calls on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate his death and “launch a patterns and practices investigation into the Durham Police Department.”

“Jesus’s death is merely the tip of the iceberg in Durham. He is the second Latino man and third man of color to die in the presence of Durham police since July,” the petition states, referring to the fatal shootings by police of Jose Adan Cruz Ocampo, 33, on July 27, and Derek Deandre Walker, 26, Sept. 17. Ocampo was a suspect in a nonfatal stabbing; Walker was fatally shot after pointing his gun at police in a downtown standoff.

Those cases also remain under SBI investigation.

Wise: 919-641-5895

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