A Charleston County judge on Friday approved filings that will give the attorney for Denzel Curnell's family subpoena powers to get answers about his death.
The lawyer, Andy Savage, had been stymied in his efforts to get documents and interviews with authorities about how the 19-year-old died outside the Bridgeview Village apartments. But the move Friday bolstered Savage's quest with a court order.
A Charleston police officer was there June 20, when Curnell died of a gunshot wound to the head, but the State Law Enforcement Division opened an investigation into the encounter between the two.
Many basic questions about what led to the Burke High School graduate's death and how the authorities responded to it have remained unanswered.
By opening an estate in Curnell's name, Savage plans to start his own investigation and compel the release of information that the family wants.
But that move required an extra step because a death certificate for Curnell had not been issued. His manner of death - such as accident, suicide or homicide - has not been released.
Probate Judge Irvin Condon, though, signed paperwork naming Curnell's sister and brother as special representatives of Curnell's estate, according to the documents.
As the attorney for Lonese Lang and Antonio Curnell, Savage will be able to "initiate an investigation to protect the potential assets of the estate," the filings stated. With the order, Savage can subpoena police reports and officials.
Depending on its findings, such a probe could lead to a civil lawsuit.
The public's quest for answers also has been met with resistance. The police have denied three of The Post and Courier's requests for public records under the S.C. Freedom of Information Act.
City officials have asserted that Charleston Police Department Officer Jamal Medlin did nothing wrong during the ordeal and never fired a gun. A police spokesman initially said the case was a possible suicide, but family members have since questioned why the left-handed Curnell would shoot himself in the right side of his head.
SLED agents submitted a lengthy report about the death to Solicitor Scarlett Wilson, who said Thursday that she plans to recommend the next step in the investigation by next week.
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.