Family seeks answers after teen dies during license tag traffic stop in Durham

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — A Durham family is questioning how a traffic stop for bogus tags left a teen dead.

It happened Dec. 15, 2019, at the intersection of Merriweather Drive at Old Oxford Highway.

The initial press release from the Durham County Sheriff’s Office said that a driver sped away from a traffic stop before hitting a pole and flipping his car multiple times.

The next day, a follow-up release identified the victim as 18-year-old J’Mauri Bumpass.

Then, on Dec. 18, 2019, the sheriff’s office sent out another release that had a much different narrative.

A preliminary autopsy by the North Carolina Medical Examiners Office indicated that Bumpass died as a result of a “close-range gunshot wound, consistent with suicide”.

An incident report filed by Deputy Anthony Sharp on Dec. 16 indicates that Bumpass was still alive after the crash, but unresponsive.

Sharp noted a smoking gun in Bumpass lap, and a spent shell casing in the car’s floorboard, however, due to the position of the car they could not safely get Bumpass out.

Durham County Sheriff’s deputies don’t wear body cameras, so the only available video is from the fourth car that responded to the scene.

With all of the confusion, the Bumpass family requested that the SBI investigate, but so far that hasn’t happened. So CBS 17 went to the Durham County Sheriff’s Office to find out why.

In a prepared statement, Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead said that he contacted the SBI, who declined to investigate.

According to the Bumpass family attorney, CT scans at Duke Hospital revealed shrapnel in Bumpass’ skull, but so far the medical examiner’s office has yet to release his autopsy.

The Bumpass family is hoping to raise money to have an independent autopsy performed.

For more information about fundraising efforts click here.

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