When the shooting took place June 20, 2014, in Charleston, S.C., locals barely batted an eye. After all, it was Charleston and like many cities in the U.S. the shooting death of a young, black, male hardly raises an eyebrow. What caught the attention of the media was that onlookers immediately claimed Denzel "Jaba" Curnell, 19, was shot in the back by a police officer.
SLED, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, was almost immediately called to investigate the possible officer involved shooting. The Charleston police officer at the scene, Jamal Medlin, was not on duty at the time of the incident; however, he was in uniform and working as a security officer for a local apartment property.
Denzel Curnell, briefly a Soldier, had been discharged from the Army about six months ago. Prior to his dismissal from the military he had been placed on suicide watch. He apparently was unable to adapt to military life and felt the need to return to Charleston for his family. His mother had passed in January of 2013, from cancer
Today, two weeks following the shooting, SLED released preliminary information that all evidence points to the likelihood that Denzel Curnell turned a weapon on himself, and with a single gunshot, took his own life. SLED determined that Jamal Medlin’s departmental weapon was never fired.
Dot Scott, president of the Charleston NAACP branch spoke out immediately against the report, the Charleston police force, the investigation, and SLED investigators in general. In spite of the evidence, she is not buying their story and is insisting that footage from surveillance cameras that might have recorded the incident at an apartment complex, be released. She is also asking for the coroner’s final statement.
Scott, whose organization has repeatedly stated that the mission of the NAACP doesn’t involve crime reduction in local neighborhoods, is never short on criticism of local authorities. Last year Scott said Lowcountry police “officers consider it a ‘badge of honor’ to kill an African-American male.”
The family of the Denzel Curnell has retained local attorney, Andrew Savage.
Jamal Medlin is on paid administrative leave.