Family members of Akiel Denkins, the southeast Raleigh man who was fatally shot by a city police officer in February, will make a request to the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Denkins’s death.
At a press conference at the Bible Way Temple in Raleigh, the Rev. Wiliam Bar ber and Irv Joyner, legal counsel for the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, joined Denkins’ mother Rolanda Byrd, his sister, Shiquoia Johnson and the family’s attorney to make the announcement Saturday afternoon. It comes days after Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman released a report clearing Officer DC Twiddy of any wrongdoing in Denkins’s killing, based on findings from the State Bureau of Investigation.
Joyner and Priscilla McKoy, Denkins’s family’s attorney, said there are inconsistencies between Twiddy’s account of the shooting and the results of an autopsy performed on Denkins’ body, which are both laid out in the district attorney’s report. The autopsy found that Denkins was shot in the back shoulder, in the shoulder from the side direction and in an armpit from the side, the shot that killed him by puncturing both his lungs and his heart.
Joyner said the bullets were angled downwards, which would suggest that Denkins was underneath the gun that was used to shoot him, with his arm in the air.
“That information is not consistent with what the officer’s narrative is about what occurred,” Joyner said, but rather that it indicates he was running away or trying to defend himself, consistent with him being shot in the back. “There is no evidence from anybody that Akiel Denkins was armed, it is only the testimony of the officer indicating that he was armed and even the officer doesn’t suggest that during the chase, [Denkins] pulled a gun and tried to shoot him.”
McKoy said that it appears to the people of the community in southeast Raleigh that police officers charged with serving and protecting them are above the law.
“If Officer Twiddy had been poor and black, or even just poor, he would be in jail right now, and he would have to prove his claim of self-defense before a jury, during a trial, in a court of law,” she said.