Police chief: Teen shot himself in patrol car

The Associated Press

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DURHAM — Durham's police chief says a teenager who died while inside a patrol car shot himself in the head.

Chief Jose L. Lopez Jr. issued a statement Wednesday saying 17-year-old Jesus Huerta was found slumped over in the back seat of the patrol car on Nov. 19 after the officer driving the car heard what he thought was a gunshot.

"Our department continues to investigate the origin of the weapon but can confirm that it was not a departmental weapon and no officer fired a weapon during this incident," the statement said.

Lopez said while the medical examiner has confirmed that Huerta died from a gunshot wound to the head, it's not known if the wound was intentional or accidental.

Authorities said a warrant was outstanding for Huerta's arrest on second-degree trespassing charges. An investigation showed the officer handcuffed, searched and put Huerta in the back seat of the patrol car to take him to police headquarters to get the warrant.

Lopez said the State Bureau of Investigation is conducting an independent probe of the incident. Officer Samuel Duncan is on administrative leave with pay pending the investigation.

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