Community Responds to Akiel Denkins Shooting

By: Kara Haselton

On Monday, February 29, a man named Akiel Denkins was shot by officer D.C. Twiddy who was chasing him. According to an eyewitness, Denkins is said to have been outside a store front when a police car appeared. Allegedly, he immediately ran away and the officer, D.C. Twiddy, pursued him. Denkins jumped over a fence, Twiddy followed but fell and then shot him seven times in the back. Denkins was wanted on a drug charge, and it was said that a handgun was found close to his body. However, the mystery of whether or not it was Denkins’ gun and if there was motive to shoot him remains. There would be much less confusion in this incident if Twiddy was issued a body camera, as other southern states have established a precedent in situations like these. A meeting was scheduled to discuss the idea of issuing body cameras for officers in Wake County, but it was canceled due to this shooting, according to ABC 11 News.

As previously mentioned, Denkins was wanted on a drug charge, which was being monitored by the police force. According to News & Observer, Denkins was charged with “possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.” He was arrested and ordered to court, but didn’t show. The cause of the chase between Denkins and Officer Twiddy is unknown. It may have been a result of Denkins’ suspicious character in running away from the police car, or because Officer Twiddy was in search of him due to his charge. There is a lot of debate over this issue.  

Protests and vigils have occurred in Raleigh as a result of this unfortunate incident. People are angry, confused, and ill informed about what exactly happened; the police force, as well, is not certain of the true nature of the shooting. Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown asked for patience “while the follow-up investigations are conducted to determine the facts,” according to News & Observer.  

The confusion and controversy of this unfortunate episode has caused many protests and marches among the black community, promoting the Black Lives Matter movement. Slate described the emotion of the crowd as “peaceful but anxious.” Many people are enraged and concerned about the possible racist motives behind this incident. Denkins’ mother, Rolanda Byrd, told an interviewer about her unease over this situation: “He wasn’t running toward the officer, he was running away from the officer. … He wasn’t threatening anyone.” At first, she didn’t know it was her son who was shot and killed, but witnesses confirmed it was, causing Byrd to be upset over the alleged events. She is also convinced, along with several other members of the community, that her son was unarmed during this chase, suggesting there was no motive for Denkins to be shot seven times.

The unrest surrounding this issue is not yet solved, but Raleigh Police Chief Deck-Brown is hoping for a resolution within the next few weeks.