The day after twenty-four-year-old Akiel Denkins was shot and killed by Raleigh police officer D.C. Twiddy, community leaders met in Southeast Raleigh and called for a thorough investigation of Denkins’s death.
Alongside the victim’s mother, Rolanda Byrd, North Carolina NAACP head Reverend Dr. William J. Barber spoke Tuesday morning about “historical tensions” that are pervasive in American race relations and pleaded with the media to talk about Akiel Denkins “like a human being.”
“A warrant for arrest is not license to kill,” Barber said. “… [The NAACP] will provide the family the counsel and advice that they might need in order to determine how they wish to respond and to ensure a thorough and transparent investigation.” While calling for the community’s “vigilance in the pursuit of justice,” he also made a plea for peace, saying, “This is no time to turn on each other; it’s a time to turn to each other.”
Barber also called for body cameras, which the Raleigh City Council was supposed to discuss yesterday in a work session but took off the agenda after the shooting.
Later in the afternoon, community members met at the Bible Way Temple on Holmes Street to discuss where to go from here. There, Bishop Darnell Dixon Sr. pushed back against the narrative that Southeast Raleigh is dangerous. “This church has never had a complaint with the police department about any member of this community,” said Dixon. “That’s not our reality. One incident does not define our community.”
Dixon said that Byrd told him that all she wanted was the truth. For his part, Dixon had some so-far unanswered questions.
“Who found the gun near the body?” Dixon asked. “Did the gun have prints on it? Had the gun been shot recently? What is the history of the gun? Where was it bought? How long will it take for the [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives] to trace the ownership of the gun?”
He also asked for the personnel records of the police involved in the shooting, saying he put a call into police chief Cassandra Deck-Brown to request those records. (Under North Carolina public records laws, most personnel records are not public.)
After an approximately hour-and-a-half-long, closed-door “community leadership strategy meeting,” Dixon said that his main focus was to help Denkins’s family.
“Right now, our strategies are in infancy stages,” he told the INDY. “We have lawyers working with us. … We will submit the findings of this meeting and the concerns of the citizens of this community,” he said. When asked what he said to the community members attending the meeting, Dixon replied, “Trust God, keep your mouth shut, keep getting up.”
Meanwhile, members of the community were skeptical that Twiddy will be held accountable for the shooting. “It’s going to be a justified shooting,” said Darren Lockett. “The cops are going to fix it up some type of way.”
Another man agreed, saying, “You can’t even stand out here without being harassed.”
“I have a seven-year-old grandson who I see every day, and he always asks me, ‘GiGi, will the police shoot me?’” Geraldine Alshamy, the executive director of Mary Magdalene Ministries in Raleigh, told the INDY. “Why should I have a seven-year-old baby afraid at that age that the police would shoot him? Because there is no police accountability.”
Today, the INDY requested the “five-day reports” from Raleigh police shootings over the past decade. This evening, the RPD furnished us with seven such reports; the most recent death, of Renford Butler, occurred in 2008. You can access those seven reports below.
We’ll continue to update this story as the week goes on.