City Manager Tom Bonfield said Wednesday he will not release complaint histories against three Durham police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Frank Nathaniel Clark 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 officers Charles Barkley, Christopher Goss and Monte Southerland.
In general, state law shields most personnel information, including complaints and consequences.
However, the law could let Bonfield, with City Council agreement, to release information if city leaders determine it is “essential to maintaining public confidence in the administration of city services.”
Bonfield, City Attorney Patrick Baker, Police Chief C.J. Davis and other city officials have reviewed the officers’ history, Bonfield said in a statement.
Based on that review, Bonfield concluded it’s premature to request the City Council to authorize the release of further personnel information.
“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.
He said he would continue to review information as it becomes available and monitor the progress of the investigation.
“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 said.
A city report says the officers stopped and questioned 34-year-old Clark Nov. 22 at the McDougald Terrace public housing complex. It says Clark reached for his waistband and a struggle ensued. Officers said they heard a gunshot and that Southerland fell to the ground, prompting Barkley to fire his gun.
An autopsy report released Wednesday shows Clark died from gunshot wounds to the left side of his head and to his right thigh.