CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Charleston Chapter of the NAACP called for a Department of Justice investigation Monday into the death of Denzel Curnell.
The NAACP says there was "clear and evident racial profiling" in the Curnell case, according to a press release from the organization.The 19-year-old died of what was ruled a suicide outside a Charleston apartment complex on June 20 after a Charleston police officer who worked as security for the complex confronted him about why he was on the property.
The Rev. Joe Darby, first vice president of the Charleston Chapter of the NAACP, reading a statement at a Monday morning press conference, said the SLED investigation leaves troubling concerns unaddressed. Darby said he was concerned about a lapse in recording from surveillance cameras at the apartment complex where Curnell died.
In a statement to investigators, the officer said Curnell's clothing raised his suspicion, stating the teen was wearing long sleeves, long pants, and a hoodie over his head. The officer told investigators when he called Curnell over to speak with him, the teen refused to remove his right hand from his pocket after several demands that he do so. The officer said he drew his weapon and attempted to escort Curnell to the officer's vehicle for a pat down. The officer said as he was escorting Curnell, Curnell started to resist and turned his back towards the officer, leading to a brief struggle and the officer pushing Curnell to the ground. In his statement, the officer said that as he was re-holstering his weapon while standing over the teen, the teen shot himself.
On Friday, the SLED investigation summary mentioned a gap in the surveillance recording, however SLED clarified Friday afternoon that the recording system was set to begin recording for a pre-specified amount of time when it noticed a certain level of movement within its point of view, then would stop recording when that time limit was released. The system would not then begin recording again until it detected the same level of movement, according to SLED spokesman Thom Berry.
Darby also said the wearing of a hoodie was no more evidence of criminal intent in the case of Trayvon Martin.
Charleston NAACP President Dot Scott said the evidence doesn't show Curnell was capable of killing himself and said the evidence may have been contaminated. Scott said she told Curnell's sister she does not believe Curnell died as a result of a suicide.
Scott said she has not yet read the full SLED report on Curnell's death.