The Metropolitan Police Department released footage of a fatal encounter with an African-American man in Washington D.C., captured by the bodycam of one of the officers on the scene.
The Department received an urgent call on the evening of June 27, regarding a man with a gun and that police be sent immediately to Varnum Street NE. This was the same location where police found 63-year-old Sherman Evans.
The footage shows police both ordering and pleading with the man to drop his weapon so they could speak instead of resort to violence. Evans refused to cooperate with the officials and proceeded to lift his gun and point it at them. Five police officers retaliated by firing multiple shots at the man, approximately ranging between 15 and 20 bullets. After that, the officers ran toward Evans, placed him in handcuffs and sought medical care while asking if he was “alright.”
Conversations among the police officers at the scene are audible in the video, as they waited for the ambulance to arrive.
“He —-ing raised it, man — right at us,” one announced, according to USA Today.
Who placed the call?
City Administrator Rashad Young revealed that investigators linked Evans himself to the call. He stated that dispatchers called the number back, and it appeared to have Evans’ name on voicemail.
When News4 asked Young about the motive behind the call, whether it was a “suicide by cops,” Young replied that it would be inappropriate to draw conclusions on the mental state of the deceased. Although Evans’ state of mind at the time is part of the investigation of the incident, Young did not comment further on his mental condition.
There have been claims from friends and family that Evans had suffered from depression after the death of his significant other, and one of his daughters, Katrina Gaynor, said he would check himself into a hospital from time to time. However, Gaynor mentioned that she and her sister had spoken to their father days before the incident, and he seemed fine, according to The Post.
Why release the footage now?
Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser claimed she released the footage for the public to see how police officers conducted themselves. The chairperson of the Police Union, Sergeant Matthew Mahl disagreed with the video’s release stating that it only revealed a piece of the puzzle of the incident and that it was irresponsible to do so before the US Attorney has had the chance to review the case. He added that the apparent national trend in police officials involved shootings played a role in releasing the video.
The following facts should be taken into consideration when making sense of this incident. First, the shooting occurred on June 27, yet the footage was released over a week later. Second, the Department began using the body cameras in 2015, while this is the only footage of police conduct that has been revealed to the public. In addition, the question is why is the video only being released during the same week as two other incidents of police-involved shootings that shed light on racially-biased behavior on the part of the law enforcement involved?
The intention may have been to portray that it is not all police officers who perform their duties via racial profiling, which may be true. However, this particular footage does not and should not in any way downplay the violent measures to which many police officers resort unnecessarily when dealing with African-Americans, which coincidently have been captured by bystanders’ cameras instead of those with which the police are equipped.
The fact that the Mayor believes that one footage out of numerous incidents, some captured and others not, can accurately give insight into police conduct is problematic in itself.
Source: NBC Washington News