19-Year-Old Man’s Death Ruled a Suicide, Witnesses Point to Police

by / June 27, 2014 Black News 14 Comments

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Denzel “Jaba” Curnell died from an apparent gunshot wound to the right side of his head officers say its a suicide witnesses say the officer shot him. www.blacklikemoi.com

Denzel “Jaba” Curnell

Reported by Andrew Scot Bolsinger

Denzel “Jaba” Curnell, 19, died from a bullet wound to the head after an encounter with a South Carolina police officer on Friday night. Police are calling it a suicide but witnesses say an officer fired the gun.

Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said in a press conference Monday afternoon there is “no evidence” that police fired the shot that killed Curnell. He cited misinformation in creating a divide between police and the community.

“A vacuum occurs, and rumors, speculation, and inaccurate information fuel a version of the event that can cause anger, distrust, disruption, and misinformation,” Mullen said. “It is especially disappointing when this misinformation creates a divide between the police and the community that we are working hard to foster positive relationships.”

Several witnesses, who refused to be named, say that Officer Jamal Medlin told Curnell to get down and put his hands behind his head as he walked through Charleston’s Bridgeview Village apartments. And once he did that, Medlin allegedly shot him in the back, according to The Daily Mail.

But even those reports are inaccurate, according to an autopsy that found Curnell died from a bullet wound to the right side of his head, The Post and Courier reported.

Curnell, according to family, is left-handed and wasn’t someone who was suicidal.

“He wanted to travel in the military. He wanted to get married and have children. His life was cut down at an early age,” said his aunt Sylvia Campbell.

Everything seems contradictory in this story. Curnell, a recent graduate of Burke High School, was administratively discharged from basic training in Georgia.

According to the Post and Courier, Curnell earned high praise from military recruiters who called him focused, confident and ready to take on rigorous training.

“Future soldier has been outstanding,” a recruiter wrote in Curnell’s paperwork. “Would make a great addition to the U.S. Army.”

But during Curnell’s basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., officials noticed depression, hopelessness, and separation anxiety. He had lost his mother to cancer earlier that year.

On the night of his death, Curnell’s step-father said that he had not noticed any “depressive behavior.”

Though family and friends say that Curnell did not have a weapon, Mullen said that a firearm was recovered at the scene.

Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. released the following statement:

“My heart goes out to the family of Denzel Curnell. It is so very sad to have a young life ended. Denzel and his family and friends are in our thoughts and prayers … Because the City police officer was at the scene, normal protocol require that this matter be investigated by the State Law Enforcement Division. They are in control of the investigation. It is not appropriate for the City to present the complete details until SLED’s investigation is concluded. I am completely confident that the results of the sled investigation will conclude that the City of Charleston police officer’s actions were proper in all circumstances.”

Dot Scott, president of the local NAACP chapter, said police have not been forthcoming.

“Why was a young man with a clean legal record and a bright future in the military stopped by a police officer for simply being on the street? Why did his encounter with that officer end in what’s alleged to be his suicide —and why would a left-handed young man in a stressful situation shoot himself in the right side of the head? Why would an officer trying to stop a suicide be seen by witnesses with his weapon in his hand?”

Medlin, who has been on the force since to 2011, has been placed on paid leave pending the completion of an investigation.

Andrew Scot Bolsinger won more than two dozen press awards during his journalism career. He is a freelance writer, author and operates www.criminalu.co, which is focused on prison reform. He can reached at Andrew.Bolsinger@gmail.comand can be followed @CriminalUniv on Twitter.


14 Comment

  1. Did you know? The NAACP is not operating in good faith. Just Say No to the NAACP!

  2. More heartbreaking news of the never-ending reality of injustice for black people in America. I am so glad not to be an American.

  3. Apparently the fucking cop that shot this innocent young man was a negro. Just goes to show you don’t have to be white to practice and uphold white supremacy. Damn crackkka lover!

  4. Justice must prevail for this young man. May your soul R.I.P.

  5. Very heartbreaking….again! Stop killing our people!

  6. Another young innocent African American Male gunned down by a police officer ! Time and again, its the same old story all over the United States…..

    It is always interesting how the Police and other Law Enforcement Officials justify the killing of young African American Males….The justifications, lies make no sense, not at all….

    As a African American I am more concerned about what is happening to my people in the United States and our Denial of Equal Justice than I am about what is going on in the Middle East.

    African Americans as you well know our problem is here in the United Stated….

  7. I’m tired of this shit. And I’m tired of “us” just venting over the damn internet and sports bars, barber shops and hair salons, tired of NO real black leaders, tired of pathetic ass groups like NAACP doing nothing of substance. In the worst days our people went through, with nothing I might add, they banded together and made change happen. Today we just have watered down black men and women, who have “made it” so this doesn’t apply to them. All the resources and dollars we have today and this is the best we can do is stand on the side lines and point at injustice and say “dats wrong”? I’m one person but there’s thousands who feel like I do, we need to meet up hell, my children and yours are at stake, isn’t that enough to get us off of our asses?

  8. They don't care anymore about killing us, cause their planning on calling for the Alfred plan on us anyway. Were they are going to put all of us in concentration camps like they did the Jews real soon, if you don't believe me look it up. It's called the Alfred Plan and the Rex 84.


  10. Black people will never get justice in USA____never

  11. The problem here is that… Black people are too busy trying to be famous, singing and dancing… bling, bling look at me, to care about anything else. For the first time in American history, we have Black millionaires… and instead of using their money to fight for racial equality for all Blacks in america, they chose to run and hide, with the attitude of … i made it, now racism is your problem. You see it all the time, from our so called celebrities. As a matter of fact… it’s starting to feel like, if your not a celebrity, then it’s open house, on your ass!

    So I say, dont support our Black artist…if they dont participate in Black enpowerment. From our ball players, to the music industries, talk show host, and movie makers. All other race of people are doing something to enpower their own race of people except for the african american… too damn scared to take a stand!!!

    And last, but definitely not least… pay attention to the mass incarceration across the country, and how Black women are being shot at, and blately beaten by the POLICE… and our so-called Black celebrities, and leaders, dont seem to care. So you can imagine what’s going on in the prison system… Heaven HELP US!!!!


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