Less than two months after Washington, D.C.’s city council voted to reform its police department, officials have released the body camera footage from three police-involved incidents in which Black men were killed.
On the heels of protests after the police-involved death of George Floyd on May 25 in Minnesota, cities across the country have proposed or passed legislation to reform police department policies.
In Washington, D.C., the city council unanimously passed an emergency police and justice reform bill that contained 15 new measures, including “the release of body-worn camera footage after any officer-involved death or serious use of force … requires release of footage from past shootings, and bans officers from reviewing it prior to drafting crime reports.” The video must be released within 72 hours of the incidents. The bill also requires the retroactive release of deadly police-involved incidents, such as the three released Friday.
Since December 2016, all patrol officers are required to wear body worn cameras, officials said.
Mayor Muriel Bowser, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Kevin Donahue and Police Chief Peter Newsham announced the release of these three cases.
On the evening of June 12, 2018, uniformed officers observed Marqueese Alston walking with an outline of a handgun in his front right pants pocket area, according to the MPD.
Officers attempted to stop Alston, who fled on foot into an alley. Alston, 22, allegedly produced a handgun and fired at officers, while two officers returned fire, officials said.
Body camera footage shows one of the unidentified officers running after Alston before more than a dozen shots were fired. In the edited and slow-motion video, Alston is allegedly holding a gun that was dislodged from his hand during the gunfire and landed in shrubs, officials said.
Officers recovered a loaded handgun plus an additional magazine of ammunition in Alston’s pocket, officials said.
The independent investigation by the Department of Forensic Sciences found that four shell casings recovered on the scene had been fired from the handgun found by police and both the magazines in the handgun and in Alston’s pocket matched his DNA, police said.
In June, his mother, Kenithia Alston, filed a $100 million federal wrongful death lawsuit against the unidentified officers, Bowser and Attorney General Karl Racine. Responses to the lawsuit have not been filed, according to online court records.
Aderson Francois, an attorney with the Civil Rights Clinic at Georgetown University Law Center, wrote in the lawsuit that the MPD has changed its story about what happened to Alston “three times,” including whether Alston opened fire first or just pointed a gun at the officers.
Filed prior to the release of footage on Friday, the lawsuit said the MPD had “publicly denigrated and dehumanized Marqueese, and it has refused to publicly release camera footage of the shooting or any evidence from what it claims is an internal investigation that has now gone on for two years with no apparent findings or conclusions.”
Francois said in court documents that the police previously showed a redacted version of the incident, but “Ms. Alston has since attempted unsuccessfully to obtain access to the full footage of Marqueese’s shooting through a Freedom of Information Act request, among other advocacy efforts. This left Ms. Alston with neither answers nor clarity. MPD continues to evade release of the full, unredacted video, and continues to hide behind the auspices of a two-year long ongoing investigation.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in January 2019 declined to file criminal charges against the officers involved in Alston’s death. The Use of Force Board concluded that the officers were justified in shooting Alston according to departmental policy.
An 11-minute body camera video was also released on Friday related to the May 5, 2018, police-involved death of Jeffrey Price.
Price, 22, was riding a dirt bike without a helmet when he crashed into a police car, authorities said. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Officers were responding to a call of shots fired during which the caller described seeing an ATV and motorized dirt bike that might be involved, according to police.
Police said Price was driving the dirt bike northbound in the southbound lanes of traffic at a high rate of speed.
The dirt bike Price was on was reported stolen four days before the accident, police said.
The family of Price filed a wrongful death lawsuit in March against officers Michael Pearson, David Jarboe and Anthony Gaston.
The lawsuit claims that as Gaston and Jarboe chased Price in their police cars, Pearson used his “vehicle as a barricade to block the path of” Price by entering an intersection without the sirens on and caused an “unavoidable, deliberate and intentional” collision,” according to the lawsuit.
Pearson, Jarboe and Gaston have denied the allegations against them in the lawsuit, according to court documents. The lawsuit also lists Bowser and Racine as defendants. Neither has publicly commented since the lawsuit was filed.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, which concluded an independent review of the case in February 2019, declined to file criminal charges against the officer. The Use of Force Review Board determined that there wasn’t a vehicular pursuit, but the Crash Review Board found that the accident was preventable.
An unidentified off-duty MPD officer was on foot May 9, 2018, looking for the address to an event near the Brentwood Recreation Center when he was allegedly approached by D’Quan Young, who asked him who he was calling, officials said.
After a verbal altercation, Young allegedly pulled out a gun. The off-duty officer pulled out his service weapon and told Young to drop his weapon, police said.
“Young fired at the officer, who responded by shooting Young two times in the torso and three times in the leg. Young ran into the street and fell while the officer fired additional shots. Young dropped his firearm on the ground,” according to a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in July 2019.
Officials released footage of the incident on Friday from the recreation center’s cameras. The officer was not on-duty and therefore wasn’t wearing a camera. The incident appeared to happen within 60 seconds, according to the video.
The MPD also released footage from a responding officer’s body camera showing police and emergency service technicians rendering aid to Young.
“C’mon man, stay with me,” said one of the responding officers on the video.
Young, 24, was pronounced dead on the scene.
Residents told ABC affiliate WJLA after the incident that the off-duty officer shot Young as he was running away from him.
“After a careful, thorough, and independent review of the evidence, federal prosecutors have found insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the off-duty officer acted under color of law or used excessive force under the circumstances, and therefore that civil rights charges cannot be filed,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. “Federal prosecutors have also found insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the off-duty officer did not act in self-defense, and therefore that District of Columbia homicide charges cannot be filed.”
The Use of Force Review Board classified the shooting by the off-duty officer as justified, within departmental policy, officials said on Friday.