Lawyers for family of man killed by Durham police want more answers
The man fatally shot by Durham police at the McDougald Terrace public housing community on Nov. 22 died of gunshot wounds to his head and thigh, according to an autopsy report made public Wednesday.
Frank Nathaniel Clark, 34, also had cocaine and opiates in his body at the time of the shooting, a toxicology report shows.
The shooting is under investigation by police and the State Bureau of Investigation, which will release its report to the Durham County district attorney.
According to the autopsy report, Clark was shot on the left side of his scalp, above his ear toward the top of his head. He also was shot in the back of his right thigh. The autopsy could not determine which wound occurred first.
The bullet to the head partially broke apart, but the majority perforated the skull and brain, then traveled downward and lodged in his neck, according to the report.
The bullet to the thigh entered below the right buttock, fractured his femur and completely severed the right femoral artery and vein.
Police officers M.D. Southerland, C.S. Barkley and C.Q. Goss were patrolling near Wabash and Dayton streets at McDougald Terrace around 12:30 p.m. Nov. 22 when Southerland saw a man near Building 60 and got out of his patrol car to speak with him.
Barkley then pulled up, and he and Southerland started talking to the man, later identified as Clark. During the conversation, Clark reached for his waistband and a struggle ensued, according to a report from the police department after the shooting.
“During the struggle, the officers heard a shot,” the report said. “Officer Southerland fell to the ground, and Master Officer Barkley fired his duty weapon in response.”
Police had previously said a handgun found near Clark’s body did not belong to police. The report identified the gun as a loaded Smith & Wesson 9mm reported stolen in January in Durham.
The report did not indicate whether the handgun had been fired.
The autopsy confirms at least part of what two witnesses said they saw.
Reketa Bagley, Clark’s girlfriend, and Lavette Jackson, who lives next door to Bagley, said police shot Clark in the head and back. Although the bullet appears to have entered the thigh at an angle from off to the side and slightly behind, the autopsy found no injuries to the back.
Jackson said she was at her second-floor window when the shooting took place in her front yard. She said Clark’s hands were in the air while Barkley was patting him down. When Clark tried to run, she said, all three officers grabbed him and a gun went off.
Jackson said all three officers fired shots and that Clark never pulled the handgun from his waistband. When the gunfire stopped, she said Barkley, with his gun still drawn, approached Clark who had fallen beside a tree.
“He laid there for 30 minutes, and there was no gun beside him,” she said. “I think they pulled the gun out of his waist after they covered him up.”
Officers tried to revive Clark, but he was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the autopsy report.
Clark had a pair of brass knuckles in a vest pocket and a green leafy substance in a plastic bag in his left pants pocket, the report said
In addition to cocaine, chemical tests found he also had methadone, oxycodone and nicotine in his system.
Meanwhile Wednesday, City Manager Tom Bonfield said he will not release complaint histories against the officers involved in the fatal shooting while an investigation is pending.
Attorneys for Clark’s families, some community members and City Councilwoman Jillian Johnson have asked the city to release information about the officers, two of whom had been previously suspended.
“It is important that the investigation continues to be conducted in a fair and impartial way for the benefit of the public as well as the police personnel involved,” Bonfield said.
“If at any point, we determine that the release of personnel records is essential in maintaining public confidence in the administration of city services, I will not hesitate to request that the City Council make such authorization,” he added.
Staff writers Virginia Bridges and Thomasi McDonald contributed to this story.