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, 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 ( 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

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service