Police who shot and killed a 34-year-old man last month at a public housing complex in Durham said Frank Nathaniel Clark was reaching into his waistband for a handgun while struggling with the officers.
It’s not clear from police accounts whether Clark actually got hold of a gun, but he was holding a Samsung mobile phone during the confrontation with police, according to a search warrant application filed Monday at the Wake County Clerk of Courts Office.
State Bureau of Investigation agents last week obtained the warrant to look for evidence that may be contained in Clark’s cellphone after witnesses told them that Clark had talked on the device prior to the encounter and may have been using it during.
Clark, of Durham, was shot by police Nov. 22, at about 12:30 p.m. near Dayton and Wabash streets at the McDougald Terrace complex. The Durham Police Department contacted the SBI to conduct an independent investigation of the shooting, a standard procedure whenever an officer fires his or her weapon.
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The account of the shooting in the search warrant application echoes a report from the police department released Nov. 29. It says Durham police officers C.S. Barkley, M.D. Southerland and C.Q. Goss were patrolling McDougald Terrace when Southerland encountered Clark and got out to speak with him.
After Barkley joined them, Clark “reached for a weapon and a struggle ensued,” SBI Special Agent N.H. Thompson wrote in the search warrant. “During the struggle, the officers heard a shot from a gun that did not belong to the officers.”
Southerland fell to the ground with a knee injury, and Barkley fired his gun in response, Thompson wrote.
Clark was pronounced dead at the scene. Emergency workers transported Southerland to the hospital, though he was not struck by gunfire, police chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis has said.
State investigators found “a loaded Smith & Wesson 9mm handgun” on the ground next to Clark. They also found a white, “rock-like substance wrapped in a plastic bag” and his mobile phone. Both the substance wrapped in plastic and the mobile phone were “on/near Clark’s person,” Thompson reported.
Investigators intend to search Clark’s mobile phone for more evidence by reviewing the device’s telephone contact list, audio and video files, digital photographs, emails and text messages, along with received, dialed and missed calls, Thompson wrote.