Friday, May 30, 2008

Durham Police sex sting

The Raleigh News & Observer reports this morning - - -

A Durham police investigation into reports that on-duty officers were having sex with a prostitute ended abruptly after an unrelated chase and shootout interrupted an undercover operation.

Two officers resigned after news of the case broke in the fall, and Police Chief Jose Lopez recently confirmed for the first time that they were being investigated on suspicion of sexual misconduct. The Durham district attorney last week referred the case to Attorney General Roy Cooper, whose staff will decide whether anyone will face prosecution.

For months after the Nov. 6 chase and shooting, Lopez and other city officials kept a tight lid on information about the internal investigation. But in several interviews in recent weeks, Lopez has provided some new details about the case and confirmed others, making it possible to piece together a partial account of what happened.

The case began last fall, when a 33-year-old prostitute told investigators that she had had many sexual encounters with on-duty officers. The police began an internal investigation focused on five officers, Lopez said.

On Nov. 6, a woman stood in the post-midnight darkness near a seedy East Durham corner. According to Lopez, she was wearing a concealed microphone so undercover officers parked nearby could hear her and was expecting to meet with one or more of the suspected officers.

But there was an unscripted interruption. As the woman waited, four teenagers in a stolen SUV pulled up and pointed a gun at her. The undercover officers, hearing what was happening, radioed for a marked police car to stop the vehicle. That turned into a chase, which led to the fatal shooting by a Durham officer of a 16-year-old in front of the Durham Public Library's main branch.

The chase and shooting were all over the news later that morning. What the public did not know, however, was that the incident brought the undercover investigation to a premature end. . . .

The rest of the N&O’s story is here.

It gets into quite a few details, some of them edgy for a family newspaper.

I want to say more about this story, but I’m rushed now. Look for commentary tomorrow.

Worth noting – There’s nothing about the sting operation in today’s Durham Herald Sun.