Walker's family, friends ask Durham police for answers - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

Walker's family, friends ask Durham police for answers

Posted: Updated:
A memorial for Derek Walker set up at the Bronze Bull in downtown Durham. (Justin Quesinberry, WNCN) A memorial for Derek Walker set up at the Bronze Bull in downtown Durham. (Justin Quesinberry, WNCN)
A memorial for Derek Walker set up at the Bronze Bull in downtown Durham. (Justin Quesinberry, WNCN) A memorial for Derek Walker set up at the Bronze Bull in downtown Durham. (Justin Quesinberry, WNCN)
DURHAM, N.C. -

Family and friends of a Durham man who was killed in a standoff with police Tuesday say they have concerns with the way officers handled the situation.

During a news conference outside of police headquarters Thursday, family and friends asked why Durham Police did not have a trained certified psychologist or psychiatrist on the scene to help 26-year-old Derek Walker.

Walker died Tuesday after brandishing a gun in downtown Durham at the bull statue. He was shot by police and died at the hospital.

Family members and friends are also questioning why officers took them to the police station instead of allowing them to go downtown where Walker was located so they could help talk him down. 

They are also looking for answers as to why police decided to shoot Walker and why it was a lethal shot. 

"We can do whatever we need to do. If there are changes that need to be made, this is not a time to push things under the rug," said Derek's aunt, Norma Burton. "We need to be open minded, and go in and just try to see what we can do to keep this from occurring again."

Durham Police spokeswoman Kammie Michael said the department does not have a psychologist or psychiatrist on staff, but does have specially trained hostage negotiators.

Michael, asked why the police decided to fire when they did, said, "The situations law enforcement officers deal with are seldom like the ones you see on TV or in the movies. Officers deal with dynamic situations that evolve and change rapidly and involve real-time decision making. The officers spoke with Mr. Walker for approximately an hour before his actions dictated the course of events."

Asked why police could not have used a non-lethal shot, Michael referred to a video that explains some dynamics of police shooting. You can find that video here.

Meanwhile, friends and family members plan a vigil for Walker on Saturday at 4 p.m. at the bull statue downtown.

Durham Police identified the officer who shot Walker as Cpl. R.C. Swartz. He joined the force in 2001 and is assigned to the Special Operations Division. He is now on administrative leave, as is standard procedure.

Sixteen hours before the shooting, Walker posted a status update to his Facebook page saying he'd given up and wanted to die. The post, Walker indicated, came after he lost his son in a long custody dispute. 

"Don't call me and don't talk to me because I'm not responding," Walker wrote. "I hope I die very soon and a fast death because this world I live in is sorry."

In the post, Walker, who was a mortician at Hanes Funeral Home, painted a bleak picture of a man who had lost custody of his son following a bitter custody battle.

"I can't take [what] my son's mother is putting me through," Walker wrote. "She has filled [my son's] head up with so much false stuff. He has told me I'm a bad father, I'm not a good dad."

He continued, "I'm ready to die because I have no reason to live right now." 

Many friends and family members tried to reach out to Walker after the post.

"Unfortunately when you're dealing with mental health issues, we never know what a person's breaking point is," family friend Jackie Wagstaff said. "Whatever was going on with Derek, I guess he had reached his breaking point.But it does not negate and take away from all that Derek represented in Durham.

Durham Police have a Crisis Intervention Team. According to the department website, the team includes officers who have had 40 hours of specialized training in mental illness and crisis intervention.

Officers who graduate from the program have training in specialized areas, including suicide risk assessment. Part of the program's goal is to reduce use-of-force occurrences.

The county has more than 275 certified officers in five law enforcement agencies.

RELATED STORIES

RELATED LINKS

  • Durham CountyMore>>

  • RTP researchers working on Ebola vaccines

    RTP researchers working on Ebola vaccines

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 10:02 PM EDT2014-09-03 02:02:59 GMT
    North Carolina researchers are leading the charge in creating a vaccine for the Ebola virus.The National Institute of Health is working with GlaxoSmithKline, which has offices in Research Triangle Park, to start human trials of an Ebola virus vaccine this week. A Durham-based company, BioCryst, could soon do the same.
    North Carolina researchers are leading the charge in creating a vaccine for the Ebola virus.The National Institute of Health is working with GlaxoSmithKline, which has offices in Research Triangle Park, to start human trials of an Ebola virus vaccine this week. A Durham-based company, BioCryst, could soon do the same.
  • New Durham DA Echols sworn into office

    New Durham DA Echols sworn into office

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 3:51 PM EDT2014-09-02 19:51:26 GMT
    Durham's new district attorney will be sworn into office publicly Tuesday afternoon at 2 p.m.
    Durham's new district attorney will be sworn into office publicly Tuesday afternoon at 2 p.m.
  • Michael Brown forum at Duke stirs emotions

    Michael Brown forum at Duke stirs emotions

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 11:49 AM EDT2014-09-02 15:49:15 GMT
    Lesley McSpadden, right, the mother of 18-year-old Michael Brown, watches as Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., holds up a family pictureduring a news conference Aug. 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)Lesley McSpadden, right, the mother of 18-year-old Michael Brown, watches as Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., holds up a family pictureduring a news conference Aug. 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
    Duke University professors lead a panel discussion about race, the role of police and how social media coverage of street protests in Ferguson Missouri shaped the Michael Brown shooting death story.
    Duke University professors lead a panel discussion about race, the role of police and how social media coverage of street protests in Ferguson Missouri shaped the Michael Brown shooting death story.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • 16-year-old girl stabs another 65 times after nude photos posted on Facebook

    16-year-old girl stabs another 65 times after nude photos posted on Facebook

    Wednesday, April 2 2014 3:29 PM EDT2014-04-02 19:29:36 GMT
    A 16-year-old girl is accused of fatally stabbing her teen ‘best friend' in an attack spurred by nude photos of the pair together posted on social media, according to several media sources.  Anel Baez,
    A 16-year-old girl is accused of fatally stabbing her teen ‘best friend' in an attack spurred by nude photos of the pair together posted on social media, according to several media sources.  Anel Baez,
  • Biloxi bomb squad disassembles IED

    Biloxi bomb squad disassembles IED

    Authorities say an improvised explosive device found under a vehicle in Vancleave has been disassembled by the Biloxi bomb squad.
    Authorities say an improvised explosive device found under a vehicle in Vancleave has been disassembled by the Biloxi bomb squad.
  • Motorcycle club altercation leaves 2 dead, 2 injured

    Motorcycle club altercation leaves 2 dead, 2 injured

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 7:11 AM EDT2014-09-02 11:11:25 GMT
    Two victims were shot in the chest and died. Two other people had non-life-threatening injuries and are expected to survive, said police.
    Two victims were shot in the chest and died. Two other people had non-life-threatening injuries and are expected to survive, said police.
Powered by WorldNow

5912 Hwy. 49, Ste. A
Hattiesburg, MS 39401

Telephone: 601.545.2077
Fax: 601.545.3589
Email: newsroom@whlt.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.