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Some question Durham police shooting of knife-wielding man

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The incident is being investigated by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the Durham Police Department, which is standard procedure in any officer-involved shooting. The incident is being investigated by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the Durham Police Department, which is standard procedure in any officer-involved shooting.
DURHAM, N.C. -

Durham Police are being criticized for using deadly force on a knife-wielding man who they confronted Saturday morning.

Jose Adan Cruz Ocampo, 33, was shot after he refused to drop a knife when surrounded by police in front of 806 Park Avenue.

Some say a language barrier caused the shooting to happen and that Ocampo was actually trying to surrender to police.

It began when friends say Ocampo threw a beer bottle at another man, hitting him in the face. The man was also cut during the altercation. The stabbing victim was taken to the hospital for treatment.

When police arrived, they found Ocampo standing outside a home with a knife in one hand.
Friends say he did not know what police were saying to him.

"Jose no understand, no speak English," said his friend Alfredo Medea.

When Officer R.S. Mbuthia demanded Ocampo drop the knife to the ground, a friend, speaking through a translator, told WNCN that Ocampo instead tried to give the knife to the officers.

"You know the part you use to cut? He put his hand on that part and gave the other end to police," said a translator for David Battista.

When asked what Mbuthia did then, Battista pointed his fingers like a pistol and made the sound of a gun firing four times.

Ocampo's friends wonder why Mbuthia reacted that way.

Alfredo Medea, speaking through a translator said, "The police should have never killed him. They should have used a Taser or pepper spray."

What happened to Ocampo is frustrating and angering to some of the longtime residents who live on Park Avenue.

"It was unnecessary, I believe," said Ernest Smith. "Their response to whatever was happening was definitely excessive."

Smith has been involved with a neighborhood program that joins police and residents together, and has regular meeting with the department's district captain.

He says police listen to their complaints, but sometimes he fears they aren't responding to what they hear.

"There's been just too much happening that shows they don't really have the same values for people of the community that I think they should," Smith said.

Smith intends to take his latest complaint about the shooting to Durham police.

In the meantime, the department says it cannot comment on the shooting, which is under investigation by the SBI as well as the police department's Professional Standards and Criminal Investigation divisions.

Mbuthia is currently on administrative leave with pay, which is standard procedure in an officer-involved shooting.

Steve Sbraccia

Steve is an award-winning reporter for WNCN and former assistant professor. A seasoned professional, Steve is proud to call the Triangle home since 2005 after over two decades in Boston, Mass.  More>>

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