WASHINGTON — Police officers in Washington, D.C., fatally shot a young Black man Wednesday, amid increased nationwide and local scrutiny over police tactics.
Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham said uniformed officers approached a vehicle Wednesday afternoon, acting on information that there were weapons in a car in the area. As they approached the vehicle, Newsham said, two passengers fled on foot.
The wounded man was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The age of the victim was unclear Wednesday night, but he has been described as either 17 or 18 years old.
The shooting comes as police killings of Black people have sparked nationwide protests and calls for sweeping police reform.
Newsham said it would be “improper” to speculate on what prompted the officers to open fire, but he said two firearms were recovered from the scene.
“We believe the suspect had a gun at the time,” Newsham told reporters during an impromptu news conference. Members of the community on the scene disputed that contention.
The local Black Lives Matter affiliate called for immediate protests Wednesday night outside the MPD’s 7th District headquarters, stating in a tweet, “DC police murdered a Black man today.”
The shooting comes in the wake of new police reform legislation in Washington, designed to bring greater transparency to such incidents.
In June, amid nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, the D.C. Council passed emergency legislation requiring the MPD to release any body camera footage from any fatal shootings or use-of-force incidents within five days. The department must also release the names of the officers involved.
In July, the city released body camera footage from three separate fatal incidents dating back to 2018.
Ashraf Khalil, The Associated Press