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Duke police officer fatally shoots man at Duke University Hospital

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A Duke University police officer reportedly shot and killed someone in police custody at Duke University Hospital overnight.

Sarah Avery, director of the Duke Health News Office, informed The Chronicle Saturday morning that a struggle ensued in the emergency department between a Durham police officer and a man that had been arrested. Avery wrote that a Duke officer “discharged his weapon” after the man allegedly took the Durham officer’s gun.

“The man was immediately treated by trauma staff, but tragically did not survive. The next of kin is in the process of being notified,” Avery wrote.

The man was being evaluated in the emergency department. According to an official statement released by the University Saturday, the man allegedly "attacked and injured" the Durham officer, taking the gun. A Duke officer arrived in response to an emergency call from healthcare staff and shot the man who officials said had "a loaded gun raised toward the Durham police officer."

The Durham police officer was treated for injuries and released from the hospital, Avery wrote.

No patients or hospital staff were injured and hospital operations were not interrupted. In an email to colleagues, Duke University Hospital president Thomas Owens wrote that “the entire emergency department responded with courage and compassion.”

”Thanks to their efforts in extraordinarily difficult circumstances, we remained operational overnight and continued to provide patient care in a reduced capacity to accommodate ongoing investigations,” Owens wrote. “We also wish to thank the Duke University Police Department for all of their efforts to keep our team safe.”

The Duke University Police Department contacted the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation overnight, as is commonplace for police shootings. SBI is currently investigating, Avery wrote. The investigation results will be given to the Durham County District Attorney. 

Officers were reportedly wearing body cameras as required by DUPD policy and witnesses have been identified.

This is the fourth incident in which North Carolina police have shot and killed someone in the past week and the third in the Triangle. The first was in Fayetteville Jan. 8. It is the third known incident in which Duke police have caused a death, the first being in 1982 and the second being in 2010

The Durham Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 2 commended DUPD and Durham police on social media, saying they would provide legal representation to the officer involved.

"The loss of life is tragic. We are grateful to the police officers from the Durham and Duke police departments for their quick and selfless action to prevent potential harm to others, and to the Duke health care professionals who immediately acted to protect the safety of their patients," the University's statement reads.

The Chronicle reached out to DUPD Chief John Dailey for comment on the incident Saturday morning. Dailey referred The Chronicle to University news and communications Tuesday.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available. This article was updated after 6 p.m. Jan. 15 when the University released a statement. It was updated again Jan. 18 upon Dailey's response.


Nadia Bey | Digital Strategy Director

Nadia Bey is a Trinity senior and digital strategy director for The Chronicle’s 118th volume. She was previously managing editor for Volume 117.

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