How Often does Excessive Force Happen? Part 2.
Due to the recent DC Council policy that requires MPD body camera footage to be released to the public with permission of those in the footage or their family members, murders that took place more than 2 years ago are finally getting public attention.
According to news articles, In May 2018, Jeffrey Price died after colliding with a D.C. police cruiser on his dirt bike on Division Avenue NE. Police say he was fleeing from officers. Price’s family has argued a different story based off of witness accounts. Price's uncle, Jay Brown says several witnesses have told the family they saw police officers pursuing Price, which is against DC Police Department policy. Brown also says witnesses say the police SUV involved in the crash cut off Price in an attempt to stop him. The family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit. Police Chief Newsham says the officer was ultimately cited and served only a suspension for violating department rules regarding the use of his vehicle in a chase.
Also in May 2018, D’Quan Young was shot and killed by an off-duty officer outside the Brentwood Recreation Center in Northeast. At the time, police said the incident was preceded by a verbal altercation, and that Young shot at the officer, something his family has disputed. Witness accounts state that the officer drove around the street then started walking on the street. Chief Newsham claimed the officer was in the area to attend a cookout. Witnesses state Young went up to speak to the off-duty officer then heard shots fired. Since the officer was not on duty at the time of the shooting, the available video came from the nearby recreation center, and shows an exchange of gunfire. Three officers who responded after the shooting had their body-cameras on, and footage shows them trying to revive Young. The autopsy shows that Young was shot three times in the back. At the time of the incident, it took many calls and multiple hours for Young’s mother to locate her son. The U.S. Attorney’s Office opened an investigation into the shooting and the officer was put on administrative leave, Police Chief Peter Newsham announced at the time. That investigation is still ongoing, but the officer in question is now on full duty status. Young’s family is still awaiting answers to what happened to her son and still do not know the name of the officer who murdered him.
On June 12, 2018, police officers shot 22 year old Marqueese Alston (pictured above with Kenithia Alston and his daughter, photo credit: Kenithia Alston) 12 times, the majority entered through his back, after police said he pointed a gun at them. Alston’s mother was not even notified of her son’s death until a day after by the police. She had to find out from her friend and the news. After trying to find out what happened to her son, MPD changed their story multiple times. Alston’s mother was allowed to view a portion of the footage just last year, and says it doesn’t back up the officers’ account. In June she filed a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit against the city over his death. The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim kicks in two years from the incident, the lengthy investigation could be a ploy by MPD to avoid liability.
In a two month period, MPD displayed clear Fourth Amendment violations and no clear remedy to such violations. Officer names are not released, families are pushed away and not given clear information, and officers are not disciplined. The lack of required reporting and notification leads to an abhorrent lack of accountability. Excessive force is widespread in DC and is not properly avoided or remedied.