RALEIGH, N.C. >> A neighborhood in turmoil after the death of a man who police say was wanted on a drug charge is awaiting answers about what led an officer to fatally shoot him as authorities continue investigating.
Eyewitnesses have offered descriptions of what happened to the man after an officer chased him into a backyard, and one woman said she ran down a side street after hearing gunshots. The only thing Raleigh police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown would say is that a gun was found near the man’s body, but did not say whether it was his.
Senior Officer D.C. Twiddy, 29, was the officer involved in the incident, according to police spokesman Jim Sughrue. He said Twiddy has been placed on administrative leave, in accordance with department policy, while the State Bureau of Investigation looks into the matter.
Sughrue said the identity of the victim could be released Tuesday.
During a vigil Monday night, a group of ministers and community activists tried to bring a positive message to a remembrance of the slain man.
Before the vigil began about 7 p.m., about a dozen people gathered around an anti-police sign with an expletive that was hoisted on a utility pole. Several hundred people gathered to hear speakers address the crowd, with many holding candles and signs, including some with the slain man’s name and picture.
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 despite having some problems.
By the end of the vigil, the anti-police banner had been taken down.
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.
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 Emery P. Dalesio, Allen G. Breed and Martha Waggoner contributed to this report.