Family members of the N.C. Central University senior fatally shot by a security guard in September say they are getting the run-around from officials as they search for answers about DeAndre Ballard’s death.
“It is going on six months,” Ballard’s mother, Ernisha Ballard, said Thursday. “No investigation has been complete or anything, so I don’t understand what is the hold-up.”
DeAndre Ballard, a 23-year-old physical education major, was shot about 10:15 p.m. Sept. 17 by a security guard at the Campus Crossings apartment complex where he lived in Durham. A representative of the N.C. Detective Agency, which employed the security guard, has said the guard shot Ballard in self-defense during an altercation.
DeAndre Ballard’s family and friends have questioned the guard’s account of what happened that night. They say DeAndre respected authority, was afraid of guns and had no history of violence.
On Monday evening, Ernisha Ballard’s brother, Miguel Staten, spoke during a Durham City Council meeting. He said he wanted clarity about the investigation after what he described as mixed messaged from officials.
The fact that a new Durham County district attorney took over in January seems to have possibly complicated things.
Durham Police Chief C.J. Davis told the council on Monday that police sent “the entire investigation” to the DA in December, when former district attorney Roger Echols was still in office.
But Staten said the newly elected DA who began in January, Satana Deberry, told him that wasn’t the case.
“They informed me that this is not a true fact, that this case was not turned over to (Deberry) at all,” Staten, who lives in Durham, told the City Council.
Davis said the situation is “a matter that we need to clear up between the exiting DA and the incoming DA.”
Echols said he doesn’t know why he is a part of the conversation at all. He told The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun in a text message that the autopsy report for DeAndre Ballard hadn’t been provided to him before he left office.
Deberry has said in a text message that she “has not been briefed on the case.” She couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday.
The DA’s office could decide whether to press charges against the security guard, based on the police investigation and other information.
City Manager Tom Bonfield said he hopes more information about the case will be available soon.
“It is in the district attorney’s hands for any other determination or statement that should be made,” Bonfield said Thursday. “And we hope that will happen as soon as possible so that the family can at least have some answers.”
Ernisha Ballard, who lives in Charlotte, said the last time she spoke with someone from the Durham Police Department was just after she learned about her son’s death. Since then, she said, “I haven’t heard anything from anybody.”
But Davis also told the City Council that police have been in contact with Ernisha Ballard.
“We have also been in contact with her in written communication to ensure that she knew the Durham Police Department was here to support her and to execute whatever her wishes were, whether it was in a personal meeting, and I personally wrote that letter,” Davis said.
Bonfield said he has seen the letter, with certified receipt acceptance.
Maybe a neighbor or her daughter signed for it, Ernisha Ballard said, but it didn’t make it into her hands. If it had, she said, she would have set up a meeting.
After The N&O provided Bonfield a phone number for Ernisha Ballard, police reached out and spoke with her Thursday afternoon, Bonfield said.
“My child has been killed,” Ernisha Ballard said. “Of course I want to know what is going on.”
She said she wants to know specifics about the investigation: Who did police interview? Did they find DeAndre’s fingerprints on the car the security guard said he was breaking into or on the gun the guard said he grabbed?
The security guard told police he saw DeAndre Ballard trying to break into a car and shouted at him, and then an altercation ensued, according to court documents. Another security guard who walked up as the incident was unfolding said in a 911 call that Ballard tried to take the security guard’s gun.
DeAndre Ballard’s friends and family didn’t find out about his death until three days later. Police have said it took time to identify him because he didn’t have an ID card on him, The News & Observer has reported.
Some people have said they don’t understand how DeAndre Ballard, who was barefoot and wearing shorts and a tank top, ended up getting shot by a guard who was there to protect residents.
“To me, from the beginning,” Ernisha Ballard said, “this whole situation has been a total mess.”