Family of Raleigh man who died while in police custody wants independent investigation

Courtesy of Save Our Sons

The family of a man who died while in the custody of Raleigh police on Thursday is calling for an independent investigation.

The Police Accountability Community Task Force, a local police-reform advocacy group, also wants an external review into what happened before 32-year-old Curtis Mangum died.

“Police policing each other is not good enough,” said Brandon Douglas, a spokesman for PACT. “Families deserve more than an investigation by Raleigh Police Department’s own Internal Affairs division and another by the State Bureau of Investigations, an agency that’s part of the law enforcement system. We need an independent external review system led by the community.”

Mangum’s family wants the arresting officers to be taken off the streets until a thorough investigation can be completed, and also financial support from the city to cover burial expenses.

Police say Mangum, who lived in Raleigh, died early Thursday morning, hours after he was arrested for possession of marijuana and cocaine with intent to sell.

Dextro James White, 40, of Jonesborough, Ga., was arrested with Mangum, between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Wednesday at Rose Lane and Community Drive in Southeast Raleigh

After being taken into custody, Mangum “began to exhibit signs of medical distress,” according to police spokeswoman Laura Hourigan. “The arresting officers immediately contacted EMS, who transported him to WakeMed. Several hours after arriving at WakeMed, the subject died.”

Some say more questions about Mangum’s death should be answered.

“At what point did Curtis start showing signs of distress? When was he taken to the hospital?” Kimberly Muktarian, a spokeswoman for Save Our Sons, a nonprofit that supports fair sentencing laws, said in a news release Friday. “There are too many unknowns.”

Mangum’s family now wants “a just and transparent investigation so that all the facts of the case may be brought to light,” according to the release.

Mangum was the father of 15-year-old girl, according to the family.

“He would give you the shirt off of his back. And his heart belonged to his family: his daughter, mama, daddy, papa, brother, niece, extended children, and cousins. He had a heart of gold,” his mother, Betty Johnson, said in the release.

PACT, which includes community activists and nonprofit organizations, began meeting in April 2015 to address and support policies that call for accountability, equity and transparency in Raleigh’s police department.

In 2016, the group unsuccessfully lobbied for the creation of an independent panel to review complaints against police. It asserted that officers could not be trusted to be fair and objective when investigating complaints about their peers.

The coalition’s recommendation was made in the aftermath of a controversial shooting in 2016 in Southeast Raleigh, where an officer shot and killed 24-year-old Akiel Denkins. Denkins was wanted for failing to appear in court on a felony drug charge.

Mangum’s family and friends plan to gather at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Gardens at 11 a.m. Saturday to honor him.

Thomasi McDonald: 919-829-4533, @thomcdonald