A Raleigh police officer shot a man during a foot chase, spurring demonstrators to flock to the shooting scene, downtown government buildings and even the governor’s and police chief’s homes.
Police received a 911 call about 6:40 p.m. Tuesday reporting a man with a gun at a shopping center on the east side of town.
When officers arrived, Javier Torres took off, leading officers on a foot chase “during which police repeatedly ordered Mr. Torres to stop and drop the gun,” a news release said.
As Torres fled the officer who first confronted him, he ran toward another officer, who shot the 26-year-old once in the stomach, police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown said at a news conference.
Paramedics took Torres to WakeMed in Raleigh for treatment. His condition was not immediately known. No officers were injured.
Torres faces three charges: altering/removing the serial number of a firearm, going armed to the terror of the public, and resisting, delaying and obstructing an officer, Raleigh police spokeswoman Laura Hourigan said in an email. It was not immediately known whether he had an attorney.
‘One of them has a gun…’
Deck-Brown wasn’t sure whether the officer who opened fire asked Torres to stop, she said, but her department is petitioning a court to release the officers’ body camera footage, which will provide that information and other details. It was not clear whether Torres brandished his weapon or pointed it at police.
The State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting, per protocol.
Demonstrators told local reporters Torres wasn’t armed, that he was carrying only a pizza box. The same story made its way across social media, but Deck-Brown said the claims weren’t true.
“You will see that the individual does have a pizza box, but he also has a gun – and that’s what the original call that went out said,” she explained.
The handgun described by the 911 caller was found at the scene, police said in a statement.
In the first 911 call, a man reports there are several black and Hispanic men in front of a restaurant “talking trash,” and one of them, who he describes as a Hispanic man with tattoos, has a gun in the waist of his blue jeans.
“One of them has a gun strapped on him,” he says. “He’s flashing it around.”
The man calls back minutes later to update the armed man’s location and then about an hour later to report another man threatened him, saying, “I know your family. It’s done. It’s a wrap. You’re done.”
The caller pleads with the dispatcher, “Ma’am, I need some help.”
Protests at chief’s home, governor’s mansion
Footage from CNN affiliates showed protesters at the scene of the shooting, some of them yelling at police. Many left before 10:30 p.m., telling CNN affiliate WNCN that they were headed to Deck-Brown’s house.
Dozens of protesters later showed up there, along with several policemen who stood guard in front of the chief’s home and in neighbors’ driveways, the station reported.
Downtown, a much larger crowd gathered along Fayetteville Street, near a cluster of county buildings and a few blocks from the Raleigh Police Department’s downtown precinct, demanding answers, footage from CNN affiliate WTVD showed. The station, too, has offices on Fayetteville Street.
As they marched toward the state Capitol, a woman with a megaphone led demonstrators in call-and-response, shouting, “Whose streets? Our streets” and “Say his name! Javier!” the footage shows.
At the Capitol, the demonstrators blocked Salisbury Street as police looked on, WNCN reported. A few blocks away, around 1 a.m., protesters took the American flag from the governor’s mansion and later burned it in the street, the station reported.
Rolanda Byrd – whose son, Akiel Denkins, was killed by a Raleigh police officer in a 2016 incident the Wake County District Attorney’s Office ruled was self-defense – was among the protesters. She wanted to see Deck-Brown in the streets with the protesters, she told WNCN.
“She needs to be out here to support her black community right now tonight, just like i am – a mother that’s lost her child to the same violence. We want justice,” she told the station.
A 23-year-old Raleigh man was arrested in the protests and charged with simple assault, police said.
Chief: Go ahead and protest, but peacefully
Along with protesters invoking Denkins’ name, they also invoked Soheil Mojarrad, who a Raleigh officer killed last year at the same shopping center where Torres was shot Tuesday. The Wake County prosecutor cleared the officer in the case.
Deck-Brown expressed frustration with the media, who she accused of helping to spur the destructive protests by recklessly spreading false information. She did not elaborate.
“It’s also important that individuals who have a desire to voice their concerns, there is a method by which they can do that without damaging other people’s property, without harming other folk in the process,” the chief said. “That’s not who we are, and those aspects – damaging property, hurting others – is not protected under (the) First Amendment.”
Raleigh police support the public’s right to protest, but peacefully, Deck-Brown said. She was upset to see protesters outside her home, she said.
“If I’d stand here and say anything differently, I wouldn’t be true to myself or to you. I understand the frustration but what happened last night was wrong on a lot of levels,” she said. “As chief of police, I can clearly understand the frustration, but that frustration impacts all of us in this community. Aren’t we all tired of this? I am.”