The police department’s preliminary account of the fatal shooting of a 34-year-old man at a public housing complex will be made public early next week, a spokesman said Friday.
It’s not clear if the so-called five-day report will confirm or contradict an account that is circulating through the community from people who say they saw the officers shoot Frank Nathaniel Clark as he was running away from them at the McDougald Terrace housing complex early Tuesday afternoon.
Reketa Bagley, Clark’s girlfriend, says she watched the encounter between Clark and three police officers unfold in front of her home and says Clark had an uneasy relationship with one of the officers, Master Officer C.S. Barkley, since Barkley arrested him on drug trafficking charges six years ago.
“Every time he would see him, he would get nervous,” she said. “I never knew why. He was harassing him before he killed him.”
State prison records show that Clark was released from prison in April 2015 after he was convicted in 2010 of trafficking heroin and opium. State records do not name the arresting officer.
Bagley, 28, lives in the 1200 block of Dayton Street, near the intersection of Wabash Street, where she says she watched Barkley, Officer W.D.Southerland and Officer C.Q. Goss fire multiple gunshots that killed Clark at about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Barkley, Southerland and Goss have been assigned to administrative duty pending the outcome of the State Bureau of Investigation’s review of the shooting, which is standard procedure whenever an officer discharges a gun.
On Wednesday, Durham Police Chief C.J. Davis told reporters that preliminary information from one of the officers who fired his weapon indicated that Clark was talking with them when he made a sudden movement toward his waistband for a handgun. Davis said that during an ensuing struggle between Clark and the officers, a gunshot went off. Davis said the officers were not sure Clark had fired the gunshot, but that it’s not unusual for police to fire their weapons if they think someone they are encountering has fired first.
Davis said the officers are members of the department’s Violent Incident Response Team, which has been 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 were in the community “ID’ing specific individuals,” Davis said.
Bagley gave a different account of what happened that day that started on her porch, moved into her front yard and ended with Clark dead at the foot of a big sycamore tree in front of the red-brick duplex where she lives.
Bagley said Clark had come to McDougald Terrace to visit her. She said he was about to walk into her apartment on Dayton Street just before 12:30 p.m. when a police officer driving a blue, unmarked Impala pulled alongside the curb in front of her apartment.
Clark was opening her screen door when the officer told him to come over so they could talk. Bagley said Clark left the porch and walked into the front yard, where the officer explained that he was patrolling the neighborhood and checking for identification to look for non-residents who had been barred from the community.
A second officer in a black and white patrol car pulled in behind the unmarked Impala. Bagley said she, Clark, the two officers and other residents all laughed and joked a bit.
When Barkley arrived, he began patting Clark down, looking for a weapon or drugs, Bagley said, and that’s when the gun went off. She said the officers shouted “gun!” and Clark “took off running.” She said Clark was at least 15 feet from the officers when they pulled their weapons and fired.
Bagley acknowledges Clark may have had a handgun, but she says she did not see a struggle.
Police have not yet said how many gunshots were fired or where Clark was struck. Bagley thinks Goss and Southerland “shot about four times,” but that Barkley kept firing, even after Clark was down.
“The other officers had to tell him to stop shooting,” she said.
Bagley said the gunfire struck Clark in the back and the back of his head. “They literally blew his brains out,” she said.
Bagley later put stuffed bears at the base of the tree where Clark’s head lay after the shooting.
Police department officials were unavailable for comment Friday, but they said this week that they are sensitive to the community’s hurt about the shooting.
“We’re hurting, too,” said Deputy Chief Anthony Marsh, after meeting with McDougald Terrace residents this week. “It’s a loss for the community. It’s a loss for us as well.”