Durham, NC officer injured after suspect’s gun goes off in scuffle

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – A Durham, NC police officer was injured early Monday morning during a scuffle in the booking area of the Durham County jail, police said.

“He was never quite normal…He’d be out at night when it’s dark and he’d just mow… I never realized he was that dangerous.”

The incident took place around 3:45 a.m. Monday at the sally port at the jail. Officer R.S. Turner was grazed in the abdomen. He was taken to the hospital for treatment and has since been released.

Police confirmed Monday that the weapon used in the shooting was not Turner’s weapon but would not explain how a suspect under arrest managed to hide the gun.

The Durham County Sheriff’s Office said there is surveillance video of the incident but it’s not being released since it’s part of a criminal investigation.

But once again questions are swirling around Durham police practices when it comes to properly searching suspects under arrest. In November 2013, a teen who police said shot and killed himself while handcuffed in the back of a patrol car, first brought the issue to attention.

A spokesman for the Durham Police Department said, “Officers receive training on search procedures in the academy. Officers also receive officer safety updates. Investigators are still trying to determine what happened in this case.”

The suspect was identified as Danny Lee McMillen, 44, of Durham. According to a warrant, McMillen was in possession of a black ruger LCP.380 at the time of the incident.

A magistrate said McMillen does not appear to have a criminal record but neighbors described him as strange.

“He was never quite normal,” Dr. Judy Stenger said. “He’d be out at night when it’s dark and he’d just mow… I never realized he was that dangerous.”

Neighbor Patricia Stenger said McMillen is not a bad man. “I think he may have had a breakdown,” she said. “The whole thing is very, very sad.”

According to a preliminary investigation, the incident started when officers responded to a peeping call on Chesden Drive shortly after 2 a.m. Officers arrested McMillen on Lake Village Drive about an hour later and Turner handcuffed him and took him to the jail.

As Turner removed the handcuffs from McMillen in the booking area, Turner saw that McMillen was reaching for a gun in the back of his pants.

Police said Turner immediately tried to grab the gun. As the two wrestled over the weapon, the gun went off, injuring Turner.

McMillen is charged with misdemeanor secret peeping, felony possession of a weapon by a prisoner, assault with a deadly weapon of a government official and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. McMillen is facing two other misdemeanor charges. McMillen was given a $505,000 bond.

Operations at the Durham County Detention Facility returned to normal following the incident.

Copyright 2016 WNCN. All Rights Reserved.

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