DURHAM — Mayor Bill Bell said Monday night that the city will release the findings of a Police Department investigation into the Nov. 19 death of Jesus Huerta some time this week.
Certainly before Friday, Bell said.
Bell said the investigation into the teenagers fatal shooting is not complete but will be within the next couple of days.
He made the announcement at the start of the City Councils regular meeting, following a closed meeting with city attorneys. No police officers attended the closed meeting.
Earlier Monday, Bell said results would be given to the Huerta family before they are released to the general public.
We want to be respectful, he said. A young man lost his life and we dont take that lightly.
Huerta, 17 at the time of his death Nov. 19, suffered a fatal gunshot wound to his head while handcuffed in the back seat of a police cruiser on Nov. 19. He had been arrested on an outstanding warrant for trespassing after his family asked police to be on the lookout for him after he walked away from home following an argument.
Police have said no officer fired a weapon, and that evidence suggests Huerta somehow shot himself. Police Chief Jose Lopez has said the State Bureau of Investigation has confirmed Huerta was wearing gloves and that the gloves had gunpowder residue on them.
Other details have been withheld pending results of the SBI investigation, but Bell and many members of the public have called on the police to reveal their information on his death.
Bell said the council voted unanimously to release the investigation results, which had been recommended by City Manager Tom Bonfield and City Attorney Patrick Baker. Release, he said, is regarded as central to maintaining (public) confidence in the city government.
We want to release as much information as possible, Bell said.
The report to be released this week is on the Police Departments internal investigation, which is separate from an ongoing probe by the State Bureau of Investigation.
Bell said the SBI findings, which still lack a state medical examiners report, will not be released to the city, but rather to District Attorney Leon Stanback.
It will be up to the DAs office to determine what is done with that information, Bell said. Stanback has previously said he expects to make those results public.
Also Monday, the Durham Peoples Alliance, one of the communitys major political-action groups, issued a statement on the police use of tear gas to break up a memorial gathering for Huerta and other controversies swirling around the Police Department.
We call upon the Durham Police Department (DPD) to engage more collaboratively and transparently with the community to explain the tragic events of November 19, the PA statement said in part. We also call upon the DPD to focus on controlling the small number of violent demonstrators without resorting to the use of aggressive dispersion tactics on peaceful demonstrators. These actions are instilling fear and distrust across the community and cannot continue
According to the PA, another memorial protest is planned Jan. 19.