Hundreds of people attended a vigil Monday night for a man who was shot and killed by a police officer in Southeast Raleigh.
The crowd filled up the street in front of PJ’s Grill and Groceries. They brought flowers and candles, and wrote notes on poster boards. They said “Rest in Peace Lockman” - otherwise known by his given name Akiel Denkins.
Denkins had short cropped hair and a beard. He had two children. He also had an outstanding warrant for a felony drug charge. According to witnesses, Denkins was hanging around outside of PJ’s just past noon. He saw a police officer and started running away.
"This is a sad day, and our thoughts and prayers go out to all involved,” said Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown a few hours later. "Shortly after noon today, a Raleigh Police Department officer engaged in a foot pursuit in the vicinity of Bragg and East streets while trying to detain an adult male suspect who was wanted for a drug charge. During the course of the pursuit, the suspect was shot and killed by the officer."
Deck-Brown wouldn’t identify the shooting victim. All she would say was that investigators found a firearm near his body. But outside of PJ’s Grill and Groceries, many people were saying Denkins had been shot.
"Everybody out here knows my son,” his mother, Rolands Brown, told TV-station WTVD. “He's from this neighborhood. I'm from this neighborhood. He was running away. They couldn't catch him, so they shot him several times."
Dozens of people milled about outside of PJ’s all afternoon. Authorities inspected the scene in a courtyard behind the store. Men wearing red clothes looked from behind police tape. Pastors and elders from nearby churches and a mosque waited down the street.
“United we stand! United we stand!,” they shouted.
By 7 p.m., the police had taken down the yellow tape, the sun had gone down, and the crowd had swelled to more than 300 people. There were speeches. There were chants. There were neighbors, and there were people from across town.
"In the last hour, you saw people come from every walk of the area to be in support of the rally remembering the young man who got killed today by a police officer,” said Kimberly Muktarian, an advocate for minors in Wake County courts. "This is the start of a new movement right here in Raleigh. It doesn't have to be Ferguson or Baltimore. It is Raleigh, N.C. You see us out here together, and we're going to be asking for the police accountability needed."
The officer involved in the shooting is 29-year-old D.C. Twiddy. He served the department since 2009, and has been put on administrative leave. The State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting and will report its findings to the Wake County District Attorney’s Office.