In a letter to Durham City Manager Thomas Bonfield dated June 20, Police Chief Jose Lopez indicated that DPD has disciplined the officer involved in the suicide of a teen who shot himself with his hands cuffed behind his back while sitting in a police cruiser.
On the early morning of Nov. 19, 2014, Officer Samuel Duncan was driving his cruiser into the police headquarters parking lot with 17-year-old Jesus Huerta in the back seat, when Huerta shot himself in the head. Duncan apparently failed to discover Huerta’s gun during a standard pat-down during the teen’s arrest.
Duncan, who been with the police force for 16 months, also failed to re-activate the cruiser’s in-car video system after he detained Huerta. He was suspended without pay for 40 hours and given remedial training in transporting and handling prisoners
Lopez’s letter to Bonfield also gave summaries to two additional officer-involved shootings that occurred last year. The State Bureau of Investigation and DPD’s Professional Standards Division investigated each case. The Durham D.A.’s office did not find cause to seek prosecutions. (Read background on the Huerta case here.)
According to the letter, DPD has implemented two new procedures:
—The in-car cameras will automatically restart when an office restarts his cruiser.
—DPD will begin providing reports within five working days to the city manager about any officer-involved shootings or in-custody deaths.
In addition, all officers have gone through a two-hour update course on conducting searches.