US’ Columbia police department has released a body-worn camera footage of Wednesday (September 2) which shows a white officer fatally shooting a young black man in Washington DC and then leave the suspect for others to attend as he searches for the gun that he says the suspect threw away.
The video, the first of its kind since new bodycam rules and other reforms were brought into effect, was released a day after 18-year-old Deon Kay, whom police described as a known street gang member, was shot dead.
Washington DC’s new reform law says police, required since December 2016 to wear bodycams on patrol, are to make their video available to a victim’s family within five days of a shooting.
Wednesday’s shooting sparked protests, as demonstrators labeled it as yet another instance of police excess against the African-American community.
The story floating in the nation’s capital was that Deon Kay was unarmed and running away when shot.
The police department said the patrol officers had been looking for a man carrying a gun and recognized the suspect from earlier encounters as Kay.
Police Chief Peter Newsham told a press conference that when police approached a parked car with Kay inside, he and another suspect jumped out and fled on foot, with officers following him. The officer in question told investigators, he turned around to see Kay coming toward him brandishing a pistol. The officer fired the single shot that killed the suspect and saw Kay fling his gun, Newsham said.
The footage shows the officer leaving Kay to be looked after by other officers and climbs down into a ground shouting, “Where is it? Where is it? … I’m looking for the gun. … He threw it.” Minutes later the officer announces that he has found the weapon.
Newsham said the gun landed 30 meters from where Kay fell. He admitted, “That does seem like a long way to throw a weapon.” No airborne object is seen in the video.
Newsham said the footage was released at the earliest to counter “a lot of misinformation” that could otherwise “lead to disturbances in our city.”
Demonstrators demanded Mayor Muriel Bowser to dismiss the police chief.