District attorney says Durham police officer won’t face charges in fatal shooting

A Durham police officer who fatally shot a 30-year-old man in March won’t face criminal charges, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Officer Richard Jimenez shot Ondrae Hutchinson after the man grabbed onto another officer’s gun and wouldn’t let go, according to a city report released after the March 30 shooting. Officers had been called to a domestic incident at 9 Bevel Court around 5:20 a.m.

Hutchinson was “agitated” and had thrown several things at his girlfriend, according to a letter from District Attorney Satana Deberry to Police Chief C.J. Davis outlining the evidence and the DA’s conclusion.

When two officers arrived at the house, they found Hutchinson in the road and driveway “agitated and yelling,” Deberry’s letter states.

Hutchinson’s girlfriend was in the garage with their infant child, it states.

After Hutchinson was searched by an officer, he entered the garage and attempted to talk to his girlfriend, the letter states.

Officer Jerry Lanier asked him to leave and Hutchinson became combative, the letter states.

A struggle followed and Hutchinson “reached for and gained control” of Lanier’s gun. By this time, two more officers, including Jimenez, had arrived, it states.

“Both Officer Lanier and Officer Jimenez yelled for Mr. Hutchinson to let go of Officer Lanier’s gun,” the letter states, and Jimenez shouted, “Let go of the gun or I’ll shoot you.”

Officer Elizabeth Masnik deployed a Taser, but it appeared to have no effect, the letter states.

“The evidence from this investigation establishes that a reasonable officer in Officer Jimenez’s position would have believed that he and the other officers were in danger of imminent deadly force from Mr. Hutchinson,” the letter states.

Virginia Bridges covers criminal justice in Orange and Durham counties for The Herald-Sun and The News & Observer. She has worked for newspapers for more than 15 years. In 2017, the N.C. Press Association awarded her first place for beat feature reporting. The N.C. State Bar Association awarded her the 2018 Media & Law Award for Best Series.