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Durham Mayor Pushes Report In Jesus Huerta Death

Durham Police
Durham Police Department

The mayor of Durham is putting the pressure on law enforcement officials to release the findings of an internal investigation into the death of a teenager while in police custody.

It’s been six weeks since 17-year-old Jesus Huerta died in the backseat of a police car, while handcuffed. Police say he shot himself in the head.

“It’s been out there too long and that is unacceptable for me," said Bell from his office Monday.

Durham Mayor Bill Bell says it’s time to know the details leading to the mysterious shooting of Huerta.

“It’s no question in my mind that the police chief understands the importance of getting that report released at least from our perspective and from the city council’s perspective," said Bell.

Bell says it is not acceptable to keep hearing bits and pieces about the case.  He says tensions are high in the city because of how long it has taken to get more information.  On December 19, Huerta supporters and family members gathered outside the Durham Police Department.  The event turned into a protest where tear gas was used to disperse the crowd.

"We have no control over the State Crime Lab or the chief medical examiner in terms of when they will release their reports, but we do have control over the police department," said Bell.  "And I have asked the city manager to have that police report released as soon as possible, hopefully no later than the end of the week of January 6."

Meanwhile the chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has also inquired about the Huerta case and has asked to meet with Bell.  The mayor was sent an email request from Chairman Martin Castro's special assistant and counsel, Juana Silverio.  A meeting for this week has been postponed.

Leoneda Inge is the co-host of WUNC's "Due South." Leoneda has been a radio journalist for more than 30 years, spending most of her career at WUNC as the Race and Southern Culture reporter. Leoneda’s work includes stories of race, slavery, memory and monuments. She has won "Gracie" awards, an Alfred I. duPont Award and several awards from the Radio, Television, Digital News Association (RTDNA). In 2017, Leoneda was named "Journalist of Distinction" by the National Association of Black Journalists.
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