The death of a 19-year-old man allegedly shot and killed by a South Carolina police officer has been officially listed as a suicide.

murder or suicide

19-year-old Denzell Curnell.

According to the Charleston City Paper, Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said Aug. 18 that there is “no evidence” that officer Jamal Medlin fired the shot that killed Denzell Curnell on June 20. Mullen said Curnell was armed at the scene of the shooting and that police took a weapon from the scene as evidence.

However, multiple witnesses who live in nearby apartment complexes told the newspaper that Medlin ordered Curnell to lie on the ground and put his hands behind his head as he walked through Charleston’s Bridgeview Village apartments. After Curnell complied, Medlin allegedly shot him in the back.

“A vacuum occurs, and rumors, speculation, and inaccurate information fuel a version of the event that can cause anger, distrust, disruption, and misinformation,” Mullen said, according to NewsOne.  “It is especially disappointing when this misinformation creates a divide between the police and the community that we are working hard to foster positive relationships.”

An autopsy report officially listed Curnell’s death as a suicide.

“My heart goes out to the family of Denzel Curnell. It is so very sad to have a young life ended. Denzel and his family and friends are in our thoughts and prayers,” Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. said in a statement. “Because the City police officer was at the scene, normal protocol require that this matter be investigated by the State Law Enforcement Division. They are in control of the investigation. It is not appropriate for the City to present the complete details until SLED’s investigation is concluded.”

“I am completely confident that the results of the SLED investigation will conclude that the City of Charleston police officer’s actions were proper in all circumstances.”

Medlin has been with the police force since 2011 and is currently on paid leave pending the completion of the investigation.


Courtney Jacobs

AFRO Staff Writer