In Southeast Raleigh today, a twenty-four-year-old African-American man named Akiel Denkins was shot and killed by a Raleigh police officer. Members of the community have said that Denkins was unarmed—though police say there was a weapon in his vicinity—and shot in the back seven times by a white officer.
The shooting happened around noon today outside of PJ’s Grill and Groceries on Bragg Street. Denkins’s mother, Roland Byrd, told ABC11, “He was running away. They couldn’t catch him, so they shot at him seven times. Everybody seen it. … They ain’t gonna get away with this one, there’s at least 40 eyewitnesses out here.”
Denkins’s father, Sean Dailey, told The News & Observer the coroner didn’t move his son’s body until 3:45 p.m., nearly four hours after the incident.
In a statement, Raleigh police chief Cassandra Deck-Brown said that Denkins was wanted for a felony drug charge. She also said that a firearm belonging to the suspect was found near the scene, but police offered few details about the actual shooting itself. “As always, these investigations will be conducted thoroughly and will follow the available facts and evidence wherever they lead,” Deck-Brown said.
The State Bureau of Investigation will conduct the criminal investigation and turn over its findings to the Wake County District Attorney’s Office. In a statement, Wake County DA Lorrin Freeman asked “for people’s patience as work to ensure this investigation is thorough and complete.”
Susanna Birdsong, policy counsel for the North Carolina ACLU, noted that Deck-Brown was scheduled to discuss police body cameras with the city council that afternoon. But after news of the shooting broke, that meeting was postponed.
NC ACLU acting executive director Sarah Preston said in a statement, “What we do know is that far too many people of color are victims of wrongful targeting and excessive use of force by law enforcement officers across the country, and North Carolina is not immune to that reality. … On a day when the Raleigh City Council was scheduled to discuss officer worn body cameras, this shooting points to the urgent need for North Carolina’s second-largest city’s police department to adopt this crucial technology and an accompanying policy that guarantees it will be used to promote officer accountability and transparency.”
A vigil for Akiel Denkins, who had two children, will be held tonight at 7 p.m. at the intersection of Bragg and Garner. We will update as new information becomes available.