Rosa Jerez sobbed Friday behind sunglasses and a mask as she described the trauma her family is enduring after Raleigh police fatally shot her husband, Daniel Turcios, earlier this week.
“I’m here with my family because I want justice for my husband,” Jerez told the crowd at a vigil held for her 43-year-old husband.
“There’s no reason for what (police) did, in front of everyone, in front of my children,” said Jerez, speaking in Spanish, through tears. “I can’t sleep in my bedroom, I’m sleeping in the living room with my children. They can’t sleep. We’re traumatized.”
About 100 people attended the vigil in a Raleigh parking lot on South Saunders Street, south of downtown, where Turcios’ wife and children mourned him with friends, family and local activists.
Jerez stood alongside her three sons, ages 7, 11 and 20, as she expressed sadness and outrage over being widowed after police shot her husband Tuesday when they struggled to detain him at the site of an accident on Interstate 440.
“He was a good father. My children lacked nothing, and now, what can I give to them?” said Jerez. “When he got home from work, he came with candy or a churro in his hand every day for his kids. We’re destroyed, and that’s all I’m going to say.”
Authorities haven’t released details about what caused the initial crash that led up to the shooting. Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson said 911 callers indicated a man was intoxicated at the scene of the crash.
Turcios was carrying a knife that he refused to drop at police’s orders, Patterson said Tuesday. As he walked away, an officer tased him from behind, and officers tried to subdue him.
He was shot seconds later when he attempted to get up, as seen in a video recorded by a witness.
Patterson said police shot Turcios after he “swung a knife at officers.”
Raleigh police have not confirmed the man they shot was Turcios.
“We have seen the images in the video of what caused Daniel’s death,” said José Luis Villaseñor, a pastor of the church Fiesta Cristiana. “They’re images that fill us with questions. Violence bleeds us dry again. Until when, Lord, will we have to lament the use of unnecessary violence against your children?”
Immigrated from El Salvador
Turcios immigrated from Olomega, a small town in El Salvador, to the United States about 20 years ago, according to family friends. His family is raising money online through a GoFundMe account for funeral costs, expenses and the costs of repatriating his body to his home country.
His death has received widespread attention in the local Latino community, particularly through social media, because a witness captured the shooting on video. The situation has prompted them to ask whether there were other ways to defuse the situation.
“I know that we have to respect the authorities because we have to respect the laws of this country,” Marisol Ruiz, a close family friend and fellow Salvadoran immigrant, told The N&O in Spanish. “On the other hand, I feel insecure seeing a case like this, because I think that there must have been more ways for police to do something, and not kill (Turcios) or take his life.”
Local Black and Latino-led nonprofits and civil rights groups attended the vigil, including Durham Rapid Response who organized the event, Emancipate NC, Raleigh Police Accountability Task Force and El Pueblo.
“Daniel Turcios’ life mattered,” said Kerwin Pittman, a racial justice activist and director of development at Emancipate NC. “What you are seeing take place to marginalized communities, Black and brown populations… the question has to be asked: Could this brutal murder not be avoided? Could things have been handled a different way?”
Pittman said they are demanding “complete transparency and accountability” from the Raleigh Police Department.
The State Bureau of Investigation and the Raleigh Police Department are both reviewing the shooting. The police department is expected to produce a report next week detailing initial findings, according to police protocol when someone is killed by police.
The Raleigh Police Department is seeking a petition to authorize release of body camera footage worn by officers at the scene, including the officer who fired at Turcios.
Rolanda Byrd, director of Raleigh PACT, said she shared Turcios’ family’s pain. Her son Akiel Denkins, who is Black, was killed by Raleigh police as well in early 2016.
Since her son died, Byrd said she has worked in Raleigh to make sure what happened to her son doesn’t happen to others.
“But it has happened again,” Byrd said at the vigil. “It has happened before, and it’s not going to stop happening until they make some changes at the Raleigh Police Department.”
Jerez declined to answer a question from a reporter asking whether her husband spoke English and if he could understand commands from police.
Patterson previously said investigators haven’t determined whether there was a language barrier.