An initial city report on a police-involved shooting at a Durham public housing community identifies the officer who fatally shot 34-year-old Frank Nathaniel Clark but leaves a number of questions unanswered.
Officer M.D. Southerland, Master Officer C.S. Barkley and Officer C.Q. Goss were patrolling an area of Wabash and Dayton streets at McDougald Terrace around 12:30 p.m. Nov. 22, the report says.
Southerland saw a man near Building 60 and got out of his patrol car to speak with him, according to the report, which was sent to the City Council just before 9 p.m. Tuesday. Barkley then pulled up. He and Southerland started talking to the man, later identified as Clark. During the conversation, the report said, Clark reached for his waistband and a struggle ensued, as police have previously said.
“During the struggle, the officers heard a shot,” the report continued. “Officer Southerland fell to the ground, and Master Officer Barkley fired his duty weapon in response.”
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Police had previously said a handgun found near Clark’s body did not belong to police. The report identifies the gun as a loaded Smith & Wesson 9mm handgun reported stolen in January in Durham.
The report, from Police Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis, does not say whether the handgun had been fired.
It also does not say how many times Clark was hit and whether he was shot in the back as Reketa Bagley, Clark’s girlfriend, contends.
“The investigations are ongoing and, as they develop, are expected to uncover details which have yet to be determined such as how the encounter evolved, the number of shots fired, and autopsy findings,” the report says.
The city of Durham initiated “five-day reports” on officer-involved shootings after three officer-involved shootings in 2013, including two fatal shootings of suspects by police.
“What is there is what the police say they have confirmed. If they are not 100 percent sure, they aren’t going to put it in the report,” City Manager Tom Bonfield said Tuesday night. “That is kind of the purpose of the five-day report. To tell everything that we have confirmed and documented.”
Some of the information is based on a report by a Police Department supervisor who interviewed the three officers after the shooting, Bonfield said. The three officers, however, are filing their reports directly to the State Bureau of Investigation.
The report says Southerland was taken to the hospital with a leg injury but doesn’t say how he was hurt. Bonfield said Southerland was hurt after Clark grabbed for the revolver. Southerland grabbed him from behind and then fell to the ground, and was hurt during that struggle, Bonfield said.
In an interview last week, Bagley, who said she saw the encounter between Clark and the officers, said Clark had an uneasy relationship with Barkley since Barkley arrested him on drug-trafficking charges six years ago.
Barkley was patting Clark down when, Bagley said, a gun went off, police shouted “gun” and Clark “took off running.”
Bagley said the gunfire struck Clark in the back and the back of his head. “They literally blew his brains out,” she said.
As emergency workers treated Clark, a white, rock-like substance wrapped in a plastic bag fell out of his pants, according to the report.
State prison records show Clark was released from prison in April 2015 after he was convicted in 2010 of trafficking heroin and opium.
Davis has said the officers were canvassing the neighborhood following a 20 percent increase in violent crime, including drive-by shootings, robberies and gang activity, over the past three months.
The officers have been placed on administrative duty pending an State Bureau of Investigation review, which is standard procedure.
Scott Holmes, one of the attorneys for Clark's family, said the family and the community need more time to have a more thoughtful response to the report.
“This looks like a report based upon very select sources and select facts, and it doesn't include the source for their information or other information that has been developed that contradicts the report,” he said. “There is just glaring omissions in their explanation for what happened.”
Police ask anyone with information about the incident to call the SBI at 919-779-8188 or 1-800- 334-3000 (after hours).