An investigation is ongoing and no charges have been filed in the case of a North Carolina Central University student who was shot and killed by a security guard at an off-campus apartment complex in Durham, N.C., last week.
Details are still coming out about the circumstances of 23-year-old DeAndre Marquise Ballard’s death on Sept. 17, but his family says the account given to them by police just doesn’t add up.
As the Durham Herald Sun reports, Ballard’s mother, Ernisha Ballard, says she was told by police that a security guard—whose name has yet to be released, but who was identified by the firm he works for as black—saw Deandre trying to break into cars in the apartment parking lot.
From the Herald Sun:
Then [Deandre] got into the security guard’s car on the passenger side and started trying to fight the guard, Ballard said she was told. Then he got out of the passenger side, and tried to grab the guard’s gun and the gun went off. She was told that he was shot about 10:15 p.m.
“There is no way. I don’t even buy that,” Ballard told the paper. She described her son as “happy-go-lucky,” a good student, and “very spiritual.” She added that Deandre was “terrified” of guns and that she and her son had multiple talks about how to deal with law enforcement.
A lifelong friend of Deandre spoke similarly of him to WRAL TV.
“He was always going to either speak to you, ask you how you’re doing, ask you how your day is. He was never in a bad mood,” Deauntae Grimes said.
“It’s just sad to lose that type of person who was always upbeat, never anything wrong with him.”
Details shared by Deandre’s friends also complicate the narrative Ballard says she was given by police.
One friend—Jalen Cooley—says he dropped Ballard off at his Campus Crossings apartment at 10:00 p.m., shortly before the shooting. They had watched a football game, and Ballard told Cooley he was tired.
“He was going to sleep,” Cooley told the Herald Sun. “He asked me three or four times: ‘Take me home, I have class at 8 o’clock.’ ”
According to Ernisha Ballard, her son’s roommate says they found the door to Deandre’s room open that night, with one shoe in the door. Inside the apartment were his keys and ID—suggesting Deandre had only intended to step outside for a moment.
According to WRAL TV, because Ballard had left his identification inside, it took three days for police to identify his body. His friends and family assumed he was missing and filed a missing person report. It took days before police connected that report to the shooting at the Campus Crossings complex.
The security guard who killed Ballard is employed by the NC Detective Agency, which says the guard shot Ballard in self-defense. The firm’s vice president, Kevin Ladd, told WRAL that the unnamed security guard is a 15-year veteran of the firm and is a state-certified armed officer.
“He feared for his life,” Ladd said, referring to the guard.
Ladd also emphasized to WRAL that the guard accused of shooting Ballard is black—along with the majority of the NC Detective Agency’s workforce—“because we’re getting death threats.”
“With what’s going on in this country, people are assuming that this is a white officer,” he said. The firm has reportedly gotten three death threats so far.
Ladd said the agency stood by its officer, but “his thoughts and prayers are with Ballard’s loved ones,” WRAL writes.
“We feel bad about this, but this was justifiable,” Ladd said.