Students at North Carolina Central University walked out of classes on Monday in protest of their classmate Deandre Ballard’s death under questionable circumstances two weeks ago.
Ballard, a senior at the HBCU, was shot and killed by a black security guard at his off-campus apartment complex on Sept. 17. As multiple outlets have reported, the security guard claimed he caught Ballard attempting to break into cars at the Campus Crossing parking lot. According to Durham police, the guard says he shot Ballard in self-defense after the college student initiated contact with the guard and reached for his weapon.
Ballard’s friends, family, and classmates say the story doesn’t match the young man they knew and loved.
According to the Durham Herald Sun, the Monday morning protests at NCCU were a call for answers. Students also wanted to send a message to NCCU administration that they didn’t feel safe or supported in the wake of Ballard’s death, one student said.
“The thing I am trying to get the university to focus on is the fact that students don’t feel comfortable, students don’t feel safe, students don’t feel like they are truly supported,” Jamielyn Riggin, a junior who helped organize the walkout, told the Herald Sun. The paper estimates that dozens of students participated in the walk-out and a subsequent rally.
In a Sept. 27 statement about the shooting, NCCU stressed that it was not associated with Campus Crossings, the student housing complex where Ballard was shot.
The NCCU police department officers have no jurisdiction or connection with the Campus Crossings apartment complex nor with the security officer involved in the incident. NCCU does not endorse or recommend any specific rental property for students,” the statement read, according to the Herald Sun.
NCCU students like Student Government Association President Davanta Parker wanted more from administration.
“I feel like we know that our students are there, and there should be some sort of empathy toward that situation,” Parker told the Herald Sun.
It took three days to identify Ballard’s body because his family—unaware that he had been shot and killed—filed a missing person’s report. Deandre’s mother, Ernisha Ballard said her son left his keys and identification in his room, and one of his shoes propped his door open—suggesting he intended to step out for just a moment.
Disturbing allegations have also come out about the N.C. Detective Agency, the security firm that employed the security guard who killed Ballard, the paper reports.
From the Herald Sun:
In 2010, Roger Ladd, who lists his title as CEO of the N.C. Detective Agency on his LinkedIn profile, permanently surrendered his unarmed guard trainer certification for providing false information regarding guard training certificates, according to the Private Protection Services Board’s minutes.
The minutes state that he allowed guards to carry firearms without meeting the proper qualifications, and he failed to properly train unarmed guards.
The board said that Ladd had to retrain all the employees.
Two years later, meeting minutes from a state agency that regulates security guards and firms reveal that Ladd was accused of not properly registering his guards.
Durham city officials say the shooting is still under investigation, with the city waiting on autopsy, toxicology and gunshot residue reports.