Durham DA clears police in Walker shooting

From staff reportsMarch 12, 2014 

— The Durham County district attorney has cleared police of any criminal wrongdoing in the shooting of a man who pointed a gun at officers and himself during a downtown standoff last September.

“After reviewing over 38 eyewitness interviews, numerous 911 calls, statements by Emergency Medical Services personnel, the Medical Examiner's notes, crime scene photos and sketches, interviews with people who knew and cared for Derek Walker, and Mr. Walker's Facebook postings, the Durham district attorney has found there is no probable cause to charge a crime in this matter,” District Attorney Leon Stanback said in a statement.

Wednesday’s announcement marked the third time in recent months that Stanback has found no basis for criminal charges in a fatal officer-involved shooting in Durham.

Stanback earlier cleared police in the shooting of Jose Ocampo, a stabbing suspect who was shot four times in July outside his home in Old East Durham when police say he failed to heed instructions to drop a knife, and also in the death of Jesus Huerta, a 17-year-old high school student who police say shot himself in November while handcuffed behind his back in the back seat of a patrol car.

The State Bureau of Investigation and Police Department also investigated all three incidents, with the SBI giving its report to Stanback as is routine in such incidents. The district attorney recently announced he was reopening the Huerta case to investigate possible new evidence neither he nor the Huerta family’s attorney has yet described.

In the Walker case, police responded to a possible suicide threat Sept. 17 in CCB Plaza in downtown Durham.

They found Walker holding a black semi-automatic pistol. according to Stanback’s statement. “Some officers took tactical positions and another officer engaged Mr. Walker in negotiation. The standoff went on for over 45 minutes.”

Walker was alternately calm and crying, according to witnesses. He raised his gun in his right hand and pointed it toward his head several times, according to the statement.

“An officer was heard repeatedly encouraging Mr. Walker to put the weapon down. Mr. Walker raised the gun to his head one last time and then lifted it to almost shoulder-height, pointing it directly at law enforcement,” the statement continued.

Although several officers reported having engaged the trigger of their service weapons, one officer fired a shot from his city-issued rifle, according to the statement. Walker suffered a single penetrating wound to the chest and died on the way to Duke Hospital.

In a post on his Facebook page before the standoff, Walker had said he was ready to die because of a five-year custody dispute with the mother of his son.

“If there is really a true and living God and Jesus he wouldn’t put me through this … all I know is that I am a DEAD MAN WALKING,” Walker, 26, wrote. “I’m done … don’t call me and don’t talk to me because I am not responding. I hope I die very soon and a fast death because this world I am living in is sorry …”

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