The union that represents Raleigh police believes Senior Officer D.C. Twiddy fired in self-defense when he fatally shot Akiel Denkins after attempting to arrest him Monday afternoon, a spokesman said Wednesday.
Rick Armstrong said Twiddy is a member of the Raleigh Police Protective Association and has access to legal representation provided by the organization. Armstrong said based on what Twiddy has told his attorney, Lee Turner of Raleigh, the union does not think he shot Denkins as Denkins was fleeing.
“We believe he acted in self-defense,” Armstrong said. “That’s the opinion of the union. We feel like his actions were appropriate. We support him.”
Denkins, the African-American father of a 3-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son, was wanted by police for failing to appear in court Feb. 2 on a felony charge of possession of cocaine with intent to sell and distribute. Just after 12:15 p.m. Monday, Twiddy spotted Denkins outside PJ’s Grill & Groceries at 503 East Bragg St., just south of downtown.
Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown will present the city manager with a report on what the police department thinks happened within five days. Otherwise, Deck-Brown has provided few details, saying only that Twiddy was chasing Denkins on foot when Twiddy shot and killed him. Deck-Brown also said Monday that “a firearm was located within close proximity of the deceased suspect.”
But others, including Denkins’ mother, Rolanda Byrd, said a cousin told her Denkins was unarmed and shot in the back while he was running away from Twiddy.
Truvalia Kearney of Zebulon said she was standing near Denkins in front of PJ’s when a police car pulled up and he “took off running” behind the store and jumped a chain-link fence into the backyard of a house on East Street. Kearney said in an interview that the officer who chased Denkins jumped the fence and fell down, then pulled out his gun and started shooting, hitting Denkins in the back.
Kearney also disputed police reports that Denkins was armed. “If he had a gun, he didn’t pull it out,” she said.
Moments after the shooting, an angry, anxious crowd of as many as 300 people confronted officers at a police line on Bragg Street. The crowd grew boisterous but remained peaceful while decrying police violence against African-Americans. Twiddy is white; Denkins was African-American.
Clergymen in the community, Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane and state NAACP President Rev. William J. Barber have asked for calm while the State Bureau of Investigation completes its investigation of the shooting.
The SBI will report its findings to the Wake County District Attorney’s Office.
Armstrong said union officials contacted Twiddy “immediately” after the shooting to offer its support. Twiddy, a 29-year-old patrol officer who joined the department in November 2009, has been on administrative duty since Monday.
A funeral service for Akiel Denkins will be held Friday at Bible Way Temple at 1110 Holmes St. in Southeast Raleigh. There will be a visitation time from 12:30 to 1 p.m. where people may come in and greet the family. The service starts at 1. Burial will follow at Mount Hope Cemetery, 120 Prospect Ave. in Raleigh.