17-year-old who died in police custody was 'really respectful' - WNCN: News, Weather

17-year-old who died in police custody was 'really respectful'

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Jesus Huerta, photo courtesy the Huerta Family Jesus Huerta, photo courtesy the Huerta Family
Jesus Huerta, photo courtesy the Huerta Family Jesus Huerta, photo courtesy the Huerta Family

Durham Police and State Bureau of Investigation agents are investigating while a family mourns the loss of a 17-year-old who died in custody Tuesday morning.

During a news conference Tuesday, Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez identified the victim as Jesus Huerta. Huerta was a student at Riverside High, according to school officials. Lopez said Officer Samuel Duncan was transporting Huerta to headquarters to pick up a warrant charging the teen with second-degree trespassing.

When Duncan arrived at police headquarters, he heard a loud noise in the car and Duncan jumped from the vehicle.

The patrol car then rolled and crashed into a van in the parking lot. Lopez said that it did not appear that any officer fired a weapon during the incident.

A cause of death has not been determined at this time and Huerta's body has been sent to the medical examiner's officer.

Duncan has been placed on administrative leave with pay, which is standard procedure.

Jacqueline Murillo, a cousin of Huerta's said, "He was really funny, creative, nice, and would be really respectful." She found out what happened after she came home from school.

Durham city council member, Steve Schewel believes the Durham Police Department, like any other organization with more than 500 employees, can make mistakes.

"Sometimes mistakes are made and sometimes people do thing where they probably don't exercise their best judgement. That definitely happens and we need to reduce the number of times it happens," said Schewel.

As for Murillo and her family, the loss is unbearable.

"I really started crying when I first found out. We were really close" said Murillo.

Troy Hill, a junior at Riverside High School said, "We're here as a family at Riverside, so one of us pass away, it's like we just lost a family member."

Huerta has faced charges before including possession of a burglary tool, resisting a public officer and trespassing on Feb. 16. He was charged with second trespassing on Nov. 12, 2012 and then possession of marijuana with intent to sell in Oct. 2012. 

All those charges were dismissed.


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