Rolanda Byrd said there would be no doubt about what happened in the moments before her son was shot and killed by a Raleigh police officer if the officer had been wearing a body camera.
“If there had been cameras we would know exactly what happened to him instead of just the officer’s word against the public’s,” Byrd said during a “speak-out” at City Hall on Tuesday evening.
Akiel Denkins, 24, was shot Feb. 29, in Southeast Raleigh by Officer D.C. Twiddy, who tried to arrest him on an outstanding felony charge. Officials determined Twiddy acted in self-defense, but some witnesses disputed that.
Byrd was among four people who spoke Tuesday to encourage city leaders to schedule a public hearing on police accountability issues, including body cameras.
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In May, the Raleigh City Council said it would not adopt most of the eight reforms suggested by the Police Accountability Community Task Force, a local group pushing for police reform. Among the group’s suggestions was the creation of an independent board that would review complaints against police officers.
The council agreed to two suggestions: to review stop-and-search data annually and to require officers to obtain consent-to-search forms from suspects.
Akiba Byrd, a spokesman for PACT, said the group hopes to convince more residents to get involved in its effort to promote equity and transparency in the police department.
“Change is not going to happen from the inside, it’s going to happen from the outside,” Akiba Byrd said during an interview Tuesday. “They’re only going to do what the public wants them to do. Once public awareness rises and we can gain power through public perspective, then they’ll be forced to change.”
Wanda Hunter, a spokeswoman for PACT, said it’s important for Raleigh leaders to address policing methods across all neighborhoods.
“Policing in my community does not look the same as in other communities,” she said.
PACT has said Raleigh police officers should wear body cameras and the footage should be available to the public.
In March, the Raleigh City Council agreed to buy body cameras for police officers.
Last week, the General Assembly passed House Bill 972, which would make footage from police dashboard and body cameras unavailable to the public. The bill gives law enforcement control over the footage, which means police could withhold it for privacy and safety reasons.
Gov. Pat McCrory has not yet signed the bill into law.
Madison Iszler: 919-836-4952; @madisoniszler