DURHAM – The third march in the Jesus Huerta case ended with six arrests in connection and damage to multiple Durham police cars and a police substation. This is the latest in a series of demonstrations in connection with the November death of a 17-year-old who died of what authorities say was a self-inflicted gunshot wound while handcuffed in the back of a patrol car.
The vigil started at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church on Chapel Hill Street. and then there was the march, where WTVD reports marchers damaged the police District 5 substation on Rigsbee Avenue, several police cars, and sprayed graffiti at multiple locations during the march. The word “pig” was spray painted on the side of one car and ketchup was seen thrown on at least one other unit.
No injures were reported during the march of about 120 people.
Among those arrested four adults were arrested on charges of unauthorized entry and assembly in a city owned parking facility and resist, delay and obstruct. Two juveniles were also charged with the same charges but released to their parents. No arrests have been made for the vandalism.
A vigil followed at the church. Police chief Jose Lopez attended the vigil held at the church after the march but declined to speak on the matter to reporters. Durham City Council member Steve Schewel has also been vocal about supporting the Huerta family and, in his words, wanting to “help the community heal.”
Last week, Durham County District Attorney A. Leon Stanback announced no charges would be filed in the teen's death - saying an SBI probe of the incident did not find evidence a crime occurred.
Police released the highlights of an internal affairs report in which they said Huerta was arrested Nov. 19 after his family called to report he had run away. When officers found him, they discovered an outstanding arrest warrant for a second-degree trespassing charge and decided to take him into custody.
Huerta was placed in the back of a squad car and taken to police headquarters. But as the car pulled into the parking lot around 2:30 a.m., the officer driving reported hearing a loud bang and he jumped out of the moving car, which then rolled into parked vehicles.
Huerta was found dead of a gunshot wound in the back of the cruiser. Police have said it was an apparent suicide, but there were immediate questions about how the teen got the gun and how he could shoot himself if his hands were cuffed behind him. Department policy requires prisoners to be searched before they're transported.
Investigators said it appears Huerta had the .45 caliber pistol hidden somewhere on his person, and it was not found in the search.
Last week, Huerta's family said the Durham Police Department's internal affairs report "glossed over" statements from Huerta's friend who was arrested at the same time. That friend said neither he nor Huerta had a weapon. It also claims officers failed to adequately protect the troubled teen from himself.