(Reuters) - A Raleigh, North Carolina, police officer on Monday killed a man who was fleeing arrest, authorities said, and a local TV station reported protesters chanting “black lives matter” gathered at the scene.
Raleigh police did not give the race of either the officer or the dead man. But a black woman who identified herself as the victim’s mother told local television the officer was white and that her son was shot in the back as he ran away.
Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown told reporters that the suspect was running from an officer who sought to arrest him for a drug offense. He was shot near a convenience store just after 12 p.m. A gun was found near the body.
The deaths of African-Americans, many of them unarmed, at the hands of police over the past few years have sparked a debate around the United States and on the presidential campaign trail. The Black Lives Matter movement sprang up following deaths in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere.
A crowd gathered at the scene of the shooting in Raleigh, North Carolina’s capital, and chanted “black lives matter,” according to WTVD-TV in Raleigh. The American Civil Liberties Union’s North Carolina chapter posted on Twitter that a vigil would be held for the victim.
The officer was identified by police late on Monday as D.C. Twiddy, 29. He has been placed on administrative duty per department policy.
The woman who identified herself as the dead man’s mother, Rolanda Byrd, told local media that she had heard from “four or five people” that her son, Akiel Denkins, was “shot seven times by a white officer with a bald head.”
Deck-Brown said the State Bureau of Investigation and the police department will investigate and send a report to the City Council within five business days.
“I ask for your prayers for the families, for our police department and, most of all, for our community,” said Deck-Brown, who is black.
The Raleigh City Council was scheduled on Monday to discuss whether to start requiring police officers to wear body cameras, but the issue was removed from the agenda after the shooting, the ACLU said.
“Far too many people of color are victims of wrongful targeting and excessive use of force by law enforcement officers across the country, and North Carolina is not immune to that reality,” said Sarah Preston, the group’s acting executive director.
Reporting by Karen Brooks in Fort Worth, Texas; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Tom Hogue