RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Community members gathered Monday night to remember a Raleigh man fatally shot by a police officer during a foot chase as he was trying to arrest him on drug charges.
In the first several hours after the shooting, local television coverage showed police forming a line in the street near the downtown neighborhood where the shooting took place as a number of people gathered behind yellow crime-scene tape that blocked off the area and began chanting “No justice, no peace!”
The chant has been used repeatedly across the nation in recent years to protest the deaths of black men following encounters with law enforcement officers.
By late afternoon, the police tape had been taken down and by evening several dozen people had gathered with candles at a makeshift memorial near where the shooting happened.
Several hundred people gathered in the evening to hear speakers address the crowd. The Rev. Chris Jones of Ship of Zion, a church in the neighborhood, said he knew the dead man and asked aloud why the officer had to kill him.
After addressing the crowd, Jones said in a brief interview that he wanted people to remember the slain man as a good person.
Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown did not reveal the man’s race during a news conference at City Hall. She said a firearm was found near the man’s body but did not say whether it was his. She also said the man was wanted on a felony drug charge. Deck-Brown declined to provide any other details about the circumstances of the shooting pending a customary investigation by the state Bureau of Investigation.
Claresa Williams said she was standing on the curb in front of her apartment when she saw an officer drive up. A man standing in front of a convenience store then began to run, she said.
“When the police came, he jumped the fence” into the backyard of a modest house next door, Williams told The Associated Press. “The officer jumped the fence, pulled his gun out and shot him down six times.”
The officer didn’t clear the fence cleanly, causing observers to snicker, but he never hit the ground, Wilson said.
Her view was blocked so Wilson didn’t see the victim fall from bullets. “To me, you pulled your gun out and you fired at that man six times in his back because he was running,” Wilson said.
Bishop Darnell Dixon, who for 20 years has served as pastor of the Bibleway Temple church about a quarter-mile from where the shooting happened, said neighborhood relations with the police have generally been good, and he believed calm would prevail.
“This is very different for this community, the actual shooting,” he said. “I’m interested in knowing: Why did it escalate to this point?”
Tamekia Richardson said she saw a male police officer chasing a man into the backyard of one of the street’s modest homes. The men disappeared from view, and then she heard shots.
She said she then ran down a side street away from the shooting.
Judith Lewis, a woman who described herself as a community activist who has lived in the area for years, said a lot of drug activity takes place in the neighborhood at night. She blamed it on buyers coming in from elsewhere.
“It’s an open-air market,” she said.
It is standard procedure to put officers involved in fatal shootings on administrative leave. Police spokesman Jim Sughrue said he couldn’t confirm whether that had happened in this case.
Deck-Brown said the Raleigh Police Department’s Internal Affairs unit will investigate whether any departmental policies were violated. She said she will send a report to the city manager within five working days.
Associated Press writers Allen G. Breed and Tom Foreman Jr. contributed to this story.