Associated Press Writer
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) - An internal police review cleared an officer who stayed in his patrol car during a fight in which a man was stabbed to death and while the suspect escaped on a city bus.
Police Chief Steve Chalmers said on the day of the stabbing last month he believed Cpl. R.E. May acted appropriately. Chalmers said Wednesday the department's internal review had confirmed that.
"We did an administrative review of the incident involving Cpl. May to include his response and the actions that he took after arriving on the scene," Chalmers said. "Based on interviews with him and other officers, we felt there was nothing we found that (showed) he had acted improperly."
A Durham County grand jury on Monday indicted the murder suspect, Kendrick Earl Daye, 33. Daye turned himself in hours after the stabbing and is being held in the Durham County Jail with no bond.
Daye was acquainted with the victim, Kenneth Shackleford, 31, police said.
Chalmers said May was the only officer on the scene at the time and did not realize that the fight involved a weapon.
"Even after exiting the vehicle and approaching the victim, (May) had no knowledge that victim had been stabbed," Chalmers said. "He thought it was a fight. The victim didn't even notice" that he had been stabbed, until May pointed out the blood on his clothing, the police chief said.
Witnesses had told The Herald-Sun of Durham that Daye lunged at Shackleford several times with a knife, and Shackleford had jumped back each time.
The police department released a tape recording of radio communications around the time of the incident at the newspaper's request. The recordings show that May first reported an ongoing fight to dispatchers, without noting a weapon was involved. After reaching Shackleford, May found him to be conscious and alert. About 20 seconds later, the officer asked that rescue workers respond with lights flashing and siren blaring.
Another officer who arrived on the scene asked for information about the bus on which the suspect allegedly fled the scene.
"Cpl. May first checked on the victim to see if he was OK and to find out what happened," police spokeswoman Kammie Michael said Wednesday. "When other officers arrived to help, Cpl. May provided them with a description of the suspect and direction of travel."