SPECIAL TO THE WILMINGTON JOURNAL
FROM THE CAROLINIAN
In a news conference held jointly by the NC NAACP and the family of Akiel Denkins on Saturday, the family is asking for the U.S. Department of Justice to review the case as a civil rights violation.
The Denkins family is citing inconsistencies in the report released by the Wake County District Attorney’s Office last week in the shooting death of Akiel Denkins at the hands of Raleigh Police Officer D.C. Twiddy. The report stated that the DNA and other physical evidence supported the account of the shooting that Officer Twiddy provided shortly after the tragedy.
The District Attorney’s report went on to conclude that Officer Twiddy shot Mr. Denkins in self-defense as a matter of last resort and only because he reasonably believed his own life was in danger.
However, Irv Joyner, an attorney for the NC NAACP, said the trajectory of the bullets through Denkins body indicated that he was shot in the back. The state’s investigation, as well as the Raleigh Police Department’s report on the shooting said that Twiddy and Denkins were involved in a struggle when Denkins reached for a gun and was shot by Twiddy.
An attorney for the Denkins family, Priscilla McKoy said, “It is important for us to remember that Akiel did not attack Officer Twiddy. Attorney McKoy went on to say that the family is still asking for anyone with relevant information about the shooting to come forward.
Joyner could not offer a timeline for the Department of Justice’s investigation.
In the meantime the final autopsy has been released by the NC Department of Health & Human Services Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The Summary & Interpretation of the report stated: According to information received, Akiel Rakim Lakeith Denkins, a 24-year old man, died from multiple gunshot wounds sustained during an altercation with a police officer on Feb. 29, 2016.
The autopsy documented a total of four gunshot wounds; three penetrating wounds of the right chest, right shoulder, and right upper arm, and one perforating wound of the left forearm. No soot or gunpowder stippling was seen on the skin of any of the entrance wounds. The wound track of the right chest injured the heart, aorta, and both lungs, with large amounts of blood in the chest cavities. The gunshot wound of the right arm fractured the humerus. Three projectiles were recovered from the terminations of the gunshot wound tracks of the right chest, right shoulder, and right upper arm.
Toxicological analysis detected cocaine and benzoylecgonine, a cocaine metabolite. No alcohol was detected.
Based on the autopsy findings, toxicology, and circumstances surrounding the death, as currently understood, the cause of death is gunshot wounds of the chest and arms.
Attorney Irv Joyner was able to share with the press autopsy report done by the family’s Pathologist. It reported that Mr. Denkins had a bullet entry point in his back right shoulder that travelled from back to front and downward into his chest. There was a second bullet entry point, which entered his right shoulder from the side, and that bullet also travelled downward in a right to left manner and fractured his right humerus bone. The third bullet, which was fatal, entered the right side at the arm pit and travelled right to left in a downward direction resulting in a piercing of his aorta (heart) and the top and bottom portions of his left lung and the fourth bullet entered his lower left arm and exited at a higher point of the lower arm. The three damaging bullet entry points were in the back shoulder and from the side and each bullet travelled downward into Denkins’ chest from back to front.
So, the question remains as to the validity of a hand-to-hand struggle, which Raleigh Police Department and Wake Co. District Attorney reports reflect. Also in reading the Final Autopsy report from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner the remaining question of whether Mr. Denkins was shot in the back continues to remain unclear.