Autopsy of Durham suspect confirms Jose Ocampo killed by gunshot to the head

jwise@newsobserver.com mschultz@newsobserver.comJanuary 21, 2014 

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Jose Ocampo’s nephew Cristian hugs his father, Manny Ocampo, during a prayer vigil Aug. 4 outside the Park Avenue house where Jose Ocampo was fatally shot by Durham police July 27.

MARK SCHULTZ — 2013 NEWS & OBSERVER FILE PHOTO Buy Photo

— It has been nearly six months since Durham police shot and killed a Honduran man suspected in a nonfatal stabbing.

A state medical examiner’s report confirmed Tuesday what a death certificate said last summer: Jose Adan Cruz Ocampo was shot four times and died from a gunshot wound to the top of his head.

But other questions remain. The officer who fired the fatal shot July 27, R.S. Mbuthia, remains on administrative duty with pay, a police spokeswoman said last week. A State Bureau of Investigation report has yet to be released.

In Arizona, Ocampo’s family members say they have heard nothing from local law enforcement.

“No, never,” older brother Manny Ocampo, 37, said Tuesday. “We in the family want to know what happened, what has been happening, in the six months since my brother’s death. We don’t have any answers in my brother’s death.”

Police have withheld comment pending completion of the SBI inquiry. An SBI report went to Durham County District Attorney Leon Stanback several weeks ago. Stanback has said he was waiting for the autopsy before deciding whether to act on the findings.

Stanback said Tuesday morning that he had not yet seen the medical examiner’s report and would have to review it before making any statement.

Durham attorney Scott Holmes, the director of the Civil Litigation Clinic at N.C. Central University, called for an independent investigation soon after the shooting. In an interview Tuesday night, he said he wants to see the SBI and Police Department’s internal reviews to evaluate whether there is a basis for an excessive-force and wrongful-death lawsuit.

“I represent the family to explore whether there is cause for such a suit and would represent them if there is a suit,” Holmes said.

Four shots fired

According to the autopsy report, the fatal bullet entered Ocampo’s head in the top rear area, traveled “sharply downwards” and exited through his neck.

The report confirms earlier statements that Ocampo, 33, was also struck in the chest, abdomen and left wrist.

Police have said little since Chief Jose Lopez told The Herald-Sun soon afterward that Ocampo was shot in the chest when he failed to heed instructions to put his hands in the air and drop a knife.

The description didn’t jibe with witnesses who told the NCCU clinic’s investigator that Ocampo was trying to hand the knife, hilt or handle side out, to officers when he was shot.

Manny Ocampo said his brother would not have understood the officers’ instructions.

“He didn’t understand any English,” Ocampo said.

The family wants an explanation, he continued. “Why did they kill my brother?”

In his statement last summer, Lopez called the shooting a tragedy.

“The taking of a human life, by anyone for any reason, is a tragedy; and the events surrounding the July 27 fatal shooting of Mr. Jose Adan Cruz Ocampo were a tragedy for all parties involved.”

 

Wise: 919-641-5895 Schultz: 919-932-2003

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