Chief Lopez issues statement in light of recent shooting inciden - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

Chief Lopez issues statement in light of recent shooting incidents

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DURHAM, N.C. -

Durham's chief of police issued a statement Friday in light of recent officer-involved shootings, including the most recent where a 17-year-old died in police custody.

"As the Durham Police Chief, I fully understand my responsibility to be transparent on controversial issues and cases, particularly in light of recent officer involved shootings," said Chief Jose Lopez. "Not only have three lives been lost in the last few months, the credibility of the Police Department is at stake, which is something we take very seriously," Lopez added.

Lopez said this is why the State Bureau of Investigation is asked to come in to handle officer involved shootings that result in injury or death.

Lopez said he understands the community's frustrations that come with the investigation process, but he is obligated to not compromise an investigation by speaking prematurely about the case.

"That would be a disservice to the SBI, the District Attorney's Office and, most importantly the victims, the families, and to you, the community," said Lopez.

During the course of an investigation, the SBI will talk to family members of the victim or victims, officers and witnesses.

"Like you, I eagerly await the full review of these investigations, "said Lopez. "I appreciate your patience, and can assure you that once these investigations are completed, I will make a full disclosure to the public about each case," Lopez added.

The SBI is currently investigating an incident earlier this week that occurred near Durham Police headquarters. Officer Samuel Duncan was transporting Jesus Huerta, 17, Tuesday morning to headquarters to pick up a warrant charging the teen with second-degree trespassing.

When the officer arrived, he heard a loud noise and jumped out of the patrol car, which then crashed into a nearby van.

Huerta's sister said police told her that a gun was involved in her brother's death, however in a press conference Tuesday, Nov. 19, Chief Lopez said it appeared that no officer discharged their weapon.

Duncan was placed on administrative leave with pay, which is standard procedure.

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