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Teen Dies In Durham Police Custody

A teenager died in a Durham police car in the department’s headquarters parking lot early Tuesday after the officer driving him heard "a loud noise" in the car, authorities said. 

Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez would not elaborate how 17-year-old Jesus Huerta of Durham died, limiting the department's statements to say it appeared no officer had fired a weapon in the death. 

"I want to reassure the community that this incident is being thoroughly and completely investigated in an effort to determine exactly what happened," Lopez said in a news conference Tuesday. 

A Durham police officer, Samuel Duncan, was driving Huerta to headquarters to pick up a warrant charging him with second degree trespassing, when they arrived to headquarters, at West Chapel Hill and South Durham streets, at about 3 a.m. and the officer heard "a loud noise" in the car, Lopez said. The officer jumped out, and the cruiser rolled and crashed onto a nearby van.

Huerta was a student at Riverside High School, a schools spokesman said.

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the incident, and Duncan, who joined the department in July 2012, has been placed on paid administrative leave, which is common procedure for an in-custody death.

Jorge Valencia has been with North Carolina Public Radio since 2012. A native of Bogotá, Colombia, Jorge studied journalism at the University of Maryland and reported for four years for the Roanoke Times in Virginia before joining the station. His reporting has also been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Miami Herald, and the Baltimore Sun.
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