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Unsurprisingly Curnell Death Ruled Suicide, NAACP Ain’t Going For It
7/16/2014 3:55:41 PM

Charleston Branch NAACP President Dot Scott
By Barney Blakeney

Charleston police on Monday held a press conference to issue a statement that the June 20 shooting death of a 19-year-old Denzel Curnell at Bridgeview Village apartments formerly known as Bayside Manor apartments, was a suicide and that implications a Charleston police officer fired the fatal shot are unfounded. Charleston NAACP President Dot Scott said she does not believe the police. Andy Savage, attorney for Curnell’s family members said he’s waiting on the State Law Enforcement Division’s report before responding.

Charleston police Monday outlined the details of the incident essentially stating that Curnell who looked suspicious with one hand in his pocket, was confronted by the officer who after a brief struggle witnessed Curnell remove a gun from his pocket and shoot himself.

Scott said the scenario depicted by police would be laughable if not for the death that resulted. She said the details of the incident provided by police do not support evidence of Curnell’s alleged suicide. And authorities’ unwillingness to provide details immediately after the incident indicates a coverup, she said.

Also important, Scott said the police report is racially insulting in that it states Curnell was confronted simply because, as a Black man wearing a hooded shirt, he looked suspicious.

“We have to ask why was Curnell encountered? What was he doing that looked suspicious?” she asked.

Savage also said the officer’s procedure was questionable.

“I find the information received so far to be very troubling and I intend to take a much closer look,” he said Tuesday.

Scott said the NAACP will hold a community meeting to address what it considers inconsistencies. The organization will ask for U.S. Justice Department intervention, she said.

The police statement came on the heels of one issued by Ninth Judicial Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson who said no charges would be filed against the officer involved. Wilson issued her statement after reviewing SLED’s report. According to Charleston County Coroner’s office, Curnell’s death has been ruled a suicide.

Curnell died amid unclear circumstances after a confrontation with an off duty Charleston policeman performing private security at the complex. Police authorities refused to provide details of the shooting while witnesses alleged the officer shot Curnell. Some versions of the incident said Curnell had struggled with the officer and that while kneeling, he had been shot by the officer.

Police officials maintained the officer’s innocence though unwilling to shed any information that might offer any understanding. During the ensuing weeks Charleston officials stuck to declarations the officer was not guilty of wrongdoing though unwilling to provide details.

Several unusual actions by Charleston police combined with a lack of information contributed to continued speculation. SLED was called to investigate the Bridgeview shooting, but unusually, Charleston police processed the crime scene.

Police sent emails to city officials describing the incident as a ‘possible’ suicide although an officer was involved. That Charleston police processed the crime scene conjured speculation of a ‘possible’ coverup.

Police sent emails to city officials describing the incident as a ‘possible’ suicide although an officer was involved. That Charleston police processed the crime scene conjured speculation of a ‘possible’ coverup.

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