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Durham Police Chief Speaks On Teen’s In-Custody Death

Durham Police Department badge.
City of Durham

Protesters are planning a march to the Durham Police Department tonight to ask for answers in the recent death of a 17-year-old who died while in police custody in the department’s headquarters parking lot. 
Police have said Jesus Huerta was sitting in the back of a police cruiser at about 3 a.m. Tuesday before "a loud noise" was heard and he died. In a 911 recording released that day, the officer driving Huerta said the teen may have suffered a gunshot wound.

The department said no officer fired a weapon, and has not released any additional information, citing an ongoing investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation. 

Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez says that his responsibility is to be transparent and that he understands concerns over the lack of information, but that speaking prematurely could compromise the ongoing investigation.

"There's a group of individuals here who are looking for a reason to march, and I've seen them take advantage of victims and people who are mourning or who are in a really distressful situation," Lopez said. "Under the guise of supporting families, they have gone out in order to promote their own personal causes in spite of the pain they cause these individuals."

Protesters are scheduled to meet at the CCB Plaza on Corcoran Street at 7 p.m.

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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