"You could see his chest and his feet," she says, recalling how the cold air lifted a sheet covering twenty-four-year old Kenneth Bailey's body, briefly revealing the quiet man she’d known since he was four.
Bailey, better known as Simba, was shot dead by Durham police Wednesday afternoon while visiting with his family in their home on Glenbrook Drive, in a Durham Housing Authority neighborhood off Club Boulevard. According to the Durham Police Department, officers were looking for Bailey because he had violated release terms while awaiting trial for an armed robbery in August—specifically, that he had skipped curfew the day before.
Both neighborhood residents and police say Bailey ran when officers sought to enter the house. After that, the stories seem to diverge. Some residents say he was shot in the back of the head while fleeing. Police chief C.J. Davis, however, says Bailey pointed a gun at the officers pursuing him, prompting them to fire. The State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the incident, and the DPD is expected to release its initial report on the shooting next week.
On Thursday, Bailey's friends and relatives gathered on the same block that had been roped off by police tape twenty-four hours before. His two sons, Kayden and Kylenn, hugged and chased each other across the street. Both turned five in the last week—one on February 9, the other on Valentine’s Day.
"Anyone can tell you he was not a fighter," Gloria Bailey says.
Bailey says she heard about the shooting from her daughter, who learned about it on Facebook. Once she arrived on Glenbrook Drive, police gave her little information about what had happened.
"They really didn't talk to us. They didn't tell us why they were chasing him," she says.
Records indicate that Bailey was released November 7 from the Durham County Detention Center after posting a $250,000 bond. He was awaiting trial on charges of robbery with a dangerous weapon and felony conspiracy. According to Chief Davis, he was also facing an indictment for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He’d previously been convicted of speeding to elude arrest, possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia, carrying a concealed weapon, and possession of stolen goods, according to Department of Public Safety records.
Bailey was ordered by a Superior Court judge to be home between seven p.m. and seven a.m. and was outfitted with an electronic monitoring device. Bailey contacted the the Criminal Justice Resource Center's Pretrial Services Program at six thirty p.m. on February 14─Kylenn's birthday─to report that he was taking a family member to a hospital. According to a statement from CJRC director Gudrun Parmer, he had not returned home by two a.m. "and did not respond to the monitoring service’s attempts to contact him."
"It was later determined that he was at various locations throughout Durham and spent the night at a hotel," the statement says. "When he did not contact the Pretrial Office, staff followed established protocol, prepared a violation report and requested an Order for Arrest. The order was entered into NCAWARE and Pretrial Services staff communicated Mr. Bailey’s whereabouts to officers with the Durham Police Department.”
That prompted the DPD to dispatch officers to Glenbrook Drive.
Melanie Dantzler, a Glenbrook Drive resident who had known Bailey since 2013, was in bed when her mother told her someone had been shot just across the street. Outside, she saw Bailey on his back. The back of his head was bloodied, and an officer was holding his arm across his chest. Three people have told the INDY
they saw Bailey lying face down immediately after the shooting.
Three Durham officers─T.M. Greathouse, A.G. D’Meza, and J.E. Lloyd, all of the department's Selective Enforcement Team─have been put on paid leave while the shooting is investigated. Dantzler says, in her mind, that amounts to "vacation."
"These are supposed to be trained officers. They could have shot him just to injure him," she says. "Even if he was running, he wasn't trying to harm anybody."
Dantzler says Bailey's amber-colored eyes earned him the nickname Simba. "That's what got me is them damn eyes," she said, "and he had a smile that could light up a room."
As a convicted felon, Bailey had been struggling to find a solid job, Dantzler says. But he was trying to put all that behind him. "He was trying to change," she says.
If it weren't for the wind, Gloria Bailey might not have caught a final glimpse of her stepson.