Defense says Atwater suffered police abuse

Lawyers for one of the men accused of killing UNC student Eve Carson in 2008 say their client was beaten by Durham police officers.

The lawyers wrote in a court filing that Durham Police Department officers beat Demario Atwater while arresting him and after he was already handcuffed, The (Raleigh) News & Observer reported Tuesday.

Atwater’s attorneys are asking that a statement Atwater made to police after his arrest be kept out of court.

DPD Chief Jose Lopez told WRAL Tuesday that the police department had not received any complaints from Atwater or his lawyers about DPD’s use of force.

Carson was student body president of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when she was murdered. Her body was found near a residential area in Chapel Hill the morning of March 5, 2008.

Laurence Lovette is also being charged in Carson’s murder and also faces charges for the January 2008 killing of Duke graduate student Abhijit Mahato.

Lawyers for Atwater filed several motions in early February requesting access to police surveillance videos from Atwater’s processing, after Atwater asserted he was coerced into making statements during questioning.

Photographs and video of Atwater’s arrest reveal a gash and a bruise on his cheek, The News & Observer reported.

“The interrogating officer was clearly aware of Mr. Atwater’s fear of further beatings, and repeatedly tried (unsuccessfully) to reassure the defendant that no harm would come to him in the custody of the Chapel Hill Police (as opposed to the Durham police),” WRAL reported the document as stating. “Mr. Atwater even declined an offer of a drink from the officer, indicating that he believed the police would ‘put something’ in his drink; i.e. drug or poison him with it.”

Atwater has been charged with capital murder at the state level and kidnapping and carjacking at the federal level. He could face the death penalty if convicted.


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