Washington, D.C., police released body camera footage Thursday of the fatal police shooting of an 18-year-old Black man, following protests outside a police station and Mayor Muriel Bowser’s home.
The footage was shared less than 24 hours after Deon Kay was shot and killed by a patrol officer from the Metropolitan Police Department’s Seventh District in southeast Washington, D.C.
“Our community is hurting, and we know that they want answers,” Bowser said at a press briefing Thursday. “We are still gathering all the facts in MPD, and my administration will conduct a full investigation of this incident.”
According to MPD Police Chief Peter Newsham, officers responded to reports of “a man with a gun” at approximately 3:49 p.m. Police had seen a livestream on social media of the man, whom they knew, he said. Newsham did not indicate if the man was Kay.
As police arrived on the scene, two individuals left a car and allegedly fled on foot with the officers in pursuit. The officer involved in the shooting was following one of the men, but stopped when the suspect “gained too much distance,” the chief said.
When the officer turned around, “that’s when Deon Kay approached and displayed a handgun. And in response to that the officer fired one round,” Newsham said.
Kay was shot once in the chest, Newsham said. Police rendered first aid and he was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the chief said.
The officer saw Kay allegedly throw the firearm at some point during the incident. A handgun believed to be Kay’s was found nearly 100 feet from the scene of the shooting, Newsham said.
Newsham described Kay as a “validated gang member” from the area. “I know that he’s had multiple touches with the criminal justice system,” he said, adding that it’s clear that Kay “fell through multiple safety nets before yesterday afternoon.”
Two people at the scene were arrested, police said. A 19-year-old was charged with carrying a pistol without a license. He was allegedly in possession of an unregistered “ghost gun,” according to Newsham. An 18-year-old was charged with no permit for not having a driver’s license.
The officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia is conducting an independent review surrounding the use of force, Newsham said.
The officer who discharged his weapon was identified as Alexander Alvarez, in compliance with police reforms enacted in July that requires MPD to release the names of officers involved in the use of deadly or serious force. The reforms also require MPD to release body camera footage within five days of such an incident. The legislation passed amid protests over police brutality after the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.
Newsham encouraged people to watch the footage and “draw your own conclusions, in hindsight or not,” when asked at which point Kay allegedly discarded a gun.
“One of the reasons we put it out as quickly as we did is because there’s a lot of misinformation in the current climate that we have, not only here in Washington, D.C., but across the country,” Newsham said. “Misinformation can lead potentially to some disturbances in our city, and that’s the last thing that we wanted to see.”
In the bodycam footage of the incident released Thursday, Alvarez can be seen exiting the passenger side of a squad car and immediately running through the parking lot of an apartment complex. During the shaky, quick-moving footage, he can be heard saying “Don’t move” several times before the sound of gunfire. Kay is then seen falling to the ground.
Following the shooting, an officer can be heard saying, “He tossed it down there.” Alvarez then appears to look for a gun. “I gotta find it,” he says. About two minutes after the shooting, he says, “I got it right here.”
“This is the one that he was holding,” Alvarez can be heard telling a second officer, whose face is blurred.
Alvarez later asks the other officer, “Is he in bad shape?” To which the officer responds, “Don’t worry about it right now.”
Alvarez starts to move back toward the scene of the shooting when the officer tells him to “stay right there.”
“I know you’re worried about everything that’s going on. Don’t worry, people are taking care of everything else,” the officer says.
During the footage, the second officer can be heard talking to a dispatcher about a suspect that had allegedly fled on foot. “It’s a possibility he might be armed as well,” the officer says.
On Thursday, the department shared images of two recovered handguns.
Following news of the police-involved shooting, protesters gathered outside of the Seventh District police station Wednesday night. More than two dozen protesters also demonstrated in front of Bowser’s home Thursday morning, demanding that the police chief be fired.