Akiel Denkins pulled a handgun from his waistband just before a Raleigh police officer shot and killed him earlier this week, according to a report from Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown.
Denkins, 24, was shot and killed early Monday afternoon by officer D.C. Twiddy after Twiddy attempted to arrest him on an outstanding felony drug charge. Police and witnesses agree that Twiddy spotted Denkins outside PJ's Grill & Groceries at 503 East Bragg St., just south of downtown, and that Denkins ran with Twiddy in pursuit.
The report from Deck-Brown, released late Thursday, says Twiddy caught up with Denkins behind a house on South East Street and grabbed him. As the two struggled, Twiddy says he saw Denkins pull a handgun from the front of his waistband and “begin to move it toward Officer Twiddy.”
“While still struggling with Mr. Denkins, Officer Twiddy drew his duty weapon and fired multiple shots as Mr. Denkins continued to move the firearm in his direction,” the report says. “After the first shots were fired, Officer Twiddy felt Mr. Denkins’ hand or arm make contact with his duty weapon. Officer Twiddy, fearing that Mr. Denkins was either going to shoot him or attempt to take his duty weapon, stepped back and fired additional shots at Mr. Denkins, who still had the firearm in his hand.”
The report contradicts accounts from witnesses who have said Denkins was unarmed and that Twiddy shot him in the back as he fled.
Meanwhile Thursday, a preliminary autopsy shows that Denkins was shot four times, including once in the chest.
The preliminary autopsy results were released by Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman. She said Denkins was hit on the right side of his chest, injuring his heart and both lungs. The other wounds were on his left forearm, right upper arm and right shoulder. It’s not clear if any of the shots hit him from behind.
““These preliminary results provided by the N.C. State Medical Examiner of the wounds sustained by Mr. Denkins are one piece of information in the investigation,” Freeman said. “The State Bureau of Investigation continues to gather information, and evidence has been submitted to the N.C. State Crime Lab for forensic analysis.
“A thorough investigation takes time, and I continue to urge the community for its patience as we continue,” she concluded.
The Raleigh police union says Twiddy has told his lawyer that he fired in self-defense. Deck-Brown said on the day of the shooting that a gun was found “in close proximity” to Denkins’ body, behind a house on East Street.
Deck-Brown’s report Thursday says the handgun Denkins was carrying had been reported stolen on Jan. 31. It says the SBI collected evidence from the scene and that any fingerprints, DNA or other evidence recovered from the weapon will be given to the District Attorney’s Office along with the findings of its investigation.
The report says Twiddy’s patrol vehicle was equipped with a dashboard video recorder but that it was not turned on because he had not activated his blue lights, which twigger the camera. The video might have shown the initial part of the foot chase.
The report also says that Raleigh police and the SBI have canvassed the neighborhood looking for witnesses to the encounter between Denkins and Twiddy. While several have reported seeing the beginning of the foot chase and to hearing the gunshots, no one has yet said they saw the final struggle between the two men.
Twiddy, 29, has been placed on administrative duty pending investigations by the SBI and the Raleigh Police Department's internal affairs office.