A Raleigh police officer is on administrative leave after shooting and killing a possibly unarmed fleeing suspect, an action that sparked a round of nationwide protests.
29-year-old Officer D.C. Twiddy, a white officer who has been with the force for seven years, apparently confronted 24-year-old Akiel Denkins, who is black, about an outstanding felony drug warrant near the intersection of East and Bragg Streets in downtown Raleigh. According to witnesses, Officer Twiddy shot Mr. Denkins seven times in the back after he attempted to flee on foot. Mr. Denkins had a rather extensive arrest record that included felony cocaine possession, carrying a concealed weapon, assault, and resisting arrest. Investigators say they found a gun near Mr. Denkins’ body, but did not confirm that he owned that firearm.
Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown asked for patience during the investigative process; the North Carolina branch of the American Civil Liberties Union cited the shooting as evidence that “people of color are victims of wrongful targeting and excessive use of force by law enforcement officers across the country.”
Most all jurisdictions have at least one law like 14-223. North Carolina’s resisting, delaying, or obstructing an officer (RDO) law criminalizes a wide range of conduct, including things like:
- Continuing to drive after a peace officer turns on the overhead lights;
- Asking a peace officer to repeat instructions or commands;
- Making a false or misleading statement to a peace officer or investigator; and
- Doing anything that the officer subjectively perceives as argumentative or noncompliant.
Rather surprisingly, North Carolina courts have consistently held that the RDO law is not unconstitutionally vague. An infraction is a class II misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail.
Partially due to incidents like the one described above, resisting arrest laws like the one in 14-223 have come under considerable criticism lately. Some observers go so far as to say that peace officers who arrest suspects that are charged only with RDO be disciplined for overstepping their authority.
Section 15A-401 of the North Carolina General Statutes governs the use of deadly force during arrests. Such conduct is justified if:
- The officers reasonably believe deadly force is needed to protect themselves or third persons from the use or imminent threat of deadly force;
- It is necessary to prevent a dangerous suspect’s escape; or
- The force is used against an escaping felon convict who is currently in custody.
Other laws govern the use of non-deadly force during arrests. Any excessive force violates the Fourth Amendment’s limits on police powers and arguably invalidates the arrest.
Contact Aggressive Criminal Defense Attorneys
If left unchecked, some law enforcement officers will run roughshod over some suspects. For a confidential consultation with Charlotte attorneys who offer a vigorous defense, contact Remington & Dixon, PLLC.
Brandon double-majored in Political Science and Criminal Justice at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He earned his Juris Doctor from Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida. Throughout his career, Brandon has received numerous awards and recognition from his peers and agencies that rate attorneys. A few of these awards are from The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyer in 2014, The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40 in 2014, Nation’s Top One Percent: National Association of Distinguished Counsel in 2015, Super Lawyers: Rising Stars in 2018 and 2019, and North Carolina Business Magazine: Legal Elite in 2019, among others.