WASHINGTON — The Metropolitan Police Department released body camera footage from the Wednesday afternoon incident involving a police officer shooting and killing of 18-year-old Deon Kay in Southeast D.C.
The 11-minute body camera video shows the shooting and the aftermath from the perspective of Alexander Alvarez, the officer who shot Deon Kay.
What you need to know:
- Right before 5 p.m. on Wednesday, DC Police officers responded to the 200 block of Orange Street in Southeast, responding to a vehicle shown in a live streamed video on social media showing guns in the vehicle, according to MPD Chief Peter Newsham.
- Body cam footage released Thursday from the perspective of officer Alexander Alvarez shows the officers approaching the vehicle they were looking for.
- One man is seen running and Alvarez pursues him.
- After several feet of running, Alvarez turns around to see 18-year-old Deon Kay with a gun in his right hand, appearing to toss the gun past Alvarez.
- Alvarez fires his weapon once, shooting and killing Kay
- Peaceful protests occurred outside of Mayor Muriel Bowser's home and outside the 7th District police station, urging for justice.
At around 3:50 p.m., police were working a tip that there were guns in a vehicle in the area that was shown on a live-streamed social media video, according to MPD Chief of Police Peter Newsham.
Chief Newsham said the shooting happened shortly before 5 p.m. Wednesday in the 200 block of Orange Street, Southeast.
In the body camera footage released by Chief Newsham and Mayor Muriel Bowser, MPD officer Alvarez exits his car and begins to approach a separate parked car. One man is seen running away, prompting Alvarez and other officers behind him to pursue.
Alvarez runs after the two men and is heard yelling "don't move" multiple times. Alvarez runs several feet before turning around, where Kay is seen in between him and the other officers in pursuit. Kay is holding a gun in his right hand and appears to toss the weapon over Alvarez's head when Alvarez fires a single shot, striking Kay in the chest.
Kay was transported to a local hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries, but was later pronounced dead.
At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Mayor Bowser and Chief Newsham discussed the video along with the findings during their preliminary investigation.
"The footage is an important tool to hold officers accountable," Bowser said during the news conference.
NOTE: Graphic Content. MPD provided this bodycam footage to us with the blur already edited on several subjects. We made no edits to it.
Alvarez joined the Metropolitan Police Department in 2018, D.C. police said. Chief Newsham said the second man they pursued escaped.
At the scene, Chief Newsham said they retrieved two guns. They also said that 19-year-old Marcyelle Smith was charged with carrying a pistol without a license and 18-year-old Deonte Brown was charged with not having a driver's license.
"Uniformed police officers had information that there were guys in the neighborhood with guns, specifically," Newsham said in a press conference Wednesday night. "That's what they were looking for and evidently that's what they found."
NOTE: Graphic Content. MPD provided this full bodycam footage to us with the blur already edited on several subjects. We made no edits to it.
The officers involved have been placed on administrative leave.
CALLS FOR CHANGE
On Friday, Chief Peter Newsham was part of an "emergency meeting" organized by the Police Reform Commission to address the investigation and police tactics.
During the gathering, Newsham described the body camera footage showing Kay getting fatally shot as "heartbreaking."
However, he later pointed to what he described as "misinformation" posted by some to social media.
"The video shows that this young man was not unarmed. He was not shot in the back and his hands were not up when he was shot," the police chief said on Friday. "The idea behind getting the video out was to allow people to look at the video and decide for themselves how they felt about it.”
Some members of the commission, which was formed earlier this year in response to the death of George Floyd, voiced frustration with Chief Newsham and questioned how police responded to Wednesday's case.
"I still don’t know how this escalated into an armed foot chase in a residential neighborhood. I still haven’t heard what you’re going to do to make people feel safe around your officers," said Patrice Sulton, who also serves as director of DC Justice Lab. "I think this movement has made it clear that it’s not about stop murdering us. This is about stop killing us. And this is about Black lives matter.”
Other members drew attention to how Chief Newsham was describing Kay.
"All of your descriptions of Deon as an adult male, not a juvenile, specifically are an attempt to dehumanize him and make him seem like a threat," said Naike Savain, who also serves as Supervising Attorney for the Children's Law Center. Deon was 18-years-old when he died.
During the commission meeting, some members also called for more body camera footage to be released from the other officers who responded.
Under the police reform bill passed earlier this year, police currently only have to release body camera footage from the officer who actually fired.
Demands for justice as protests continue
A peaceful protest took place outside the 7th District police station for more than three hours Wednesday evening, as MPD officers formed a bike line around the station.
Protesters chanted "no justice, no peace" and "justice for Deon." A woman who identified herself as Deon's aunt had a strong message for the crowd.
"How would you feel if something happened to your kid?" she asked, with her bullhorn pointed in the direction of the police station. "How would you feel if another person had a gun and shot your child in the back?"
Organizers called on the crowd to tweet at Mayor Bowser and "demand the release of body camera footage."
Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White was on the scene of the shooting and said he had spoken with the mother of the victim.
"We’ve seen this narrative too many times in America, and now it’s hitting home," White said. "I talked to his mom about 15 minutes ago and we want to figure out what’s on the body camera footage, to figure out if he was running away why was he shot? [Police] said two weapons were recovered, but when the question was asked, ‘was he armed?’ there was no straight answer, so we want to get the facts of what happened to this young man."
Police said the officers involved did activate their body cameras and that the footage is currently under review and will be released Thursday.
Councilmember Charles Allen noted that emergency police reform legislation that the council passed in July requires body camera footage to be released within five days.
White also said he hoped to see more MPD officers hired who originate from D.C. and have "the cultural competency to address issues in the community."
"We have to come together as a community," White said. "We can’t depend on the police department in itself to police our community. It's about us keeping us safe."
Protesters gathered outside of Bowser's home and the 7th District police station Thursday morning – as dozens of protesters were chanting and holding a sign that said, "FIRE NEWSHAM."
Protesters were seen demanding that Bowser fire Chief Newsham and defund the police. They are also sharing their personal stories of oppression. Officers were seen lined up outside of the mayor's home during the protest. The shooting also sparked overnight protests outside the 7th District police station for several hours Wednesday evening.
"Pick a side Mayor Bowser and stand on the right side of history," one protester said.
In this video sent to WUSA9, neighbors can be heard saying "police shot one of the kids" and trying to determine who was shot.
Social media reactions
Shortly after the shooting, Black Lives Matter D.C. tweeted in response to the event.
"Don't let MPD control the narrative! Police lie! We're on our way," the organization said in a tweet.
Others called for MPD to release the body camera video along with firing Alvarez for shooting Kay.