The Durham Police Department this afternoon released a letter sent from Chief Jose Lopez to City Manager Thomas Bonfield offering details of an officer-involved shooting last week that put one man to the hospital in critical condition.
The shooting occurred during early morning hours last Wednesday at the Burton Apartments on Mathison Street just south of downtown. The State Bureau of Investigation is currently investigating the case.
The DPD letter states that a Spanish-speaking woman called 911 at 2:17 a.m. to report that she, a friend and a 7-month-old child had been shot at by a man from his apartment building at 1507 Mathison Street while they were walking home.
Officers J.A. Daniels and R.J. Miller were dispatched to a “disturbance with a weapon” call. They were met at 1507 Mathison St. by K9 Officer B.K. Johnson and Officer A.B. Beck. Dispatchers told the officers that the shooter was on the second floor of the apartment. Cpl. L.A. Kirkman, who was taking a report of a robbery nearby, told officers she heard five or six “very loud” shots.
Officers Daniels, Beck and Johnson checked the second floor breezeway on the west side of the apartment. Officers Beck and Daniels then went to check on the east side while Johnson remained on the west side. Daniels reported that he heard Johnson tell someone multiple times to drop a gun. Beck reported that he also heard Johnson say “drop the gun.”
As Daniels was running back to the west side of the building, he saw Johnson fire one shot toward the second floor. Johnson had taken cover behind a parked car and was approximately 18 to 20 yards away from the man when he fired the shot, according to investigators. Johnson told Daniels that a male on the second floor raised his gun at him and did not drop it.
The shooting victim was 21-year-old Cayetano Castro-Merino. The police bullet struck him in the head. A Smith & Wesson M&P .22-caliber rife with a 50-round magazine and rifle scope was ling next to him. It was reported stolen in Orange County.
Officer Johnson joined DPD in 2003 and is assigned to the K9 Unit in the Uniform Patrol Bureau. He is currently on administrative leave with pay, as is policy.