The Metropolitan Police Department on Thursday released bodycam footage of an officer fatally shooting 18-year-old Deon Kay seconds after arriving at the scene in Washington, D.C.
Officers say the Black teen “brandished a firearm” during the Wednesday encounter, prompting one cop to shoot him in the chest. He was later pronounced dead at a local hospital, spurring immediate protests across the nation’s capital that continued into Thursday outside the mayor’s home. Officials revealed Thursday the officer who shot Kay is Alexander Alvarez, who joined the MPD in 2018.
The body-camera footage, which was released less than 24 hours after the incident, comes amid months of nationwide demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice since the police-killing of George Floyd in May. On Wednesday, some of the demonstrations in D.C. turned violent as residents demanded the termination of MPD Police Chief Peter Newsham and the release of the body-camera footage.
“What I know is our officer was trying to take guns off the street and what I know is he encountered somebody with a gun... Now the rest of the investigation has to happen,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a Thursday press conference, after offering her condolences to Kay’s family.
Newsham said Thursday the shooting occurred shortly before 4 p.m. in the 200 block of Orange Street SE after officers saw a “livestream video on social media of the man with a gun and knew him from previous contacts.” The police chief described Kay as a “validated” gang member in the area who had previous encounters with authorities.
When officers arrived at the scene, they approached a parked car and two individuals inside “fled on foot.” In the body-camera footage video released Thursday, Alvarez is seen running after the two individuals, yelling “don’t move” at least three times. The entire deadly episode lasts approximately seven seconds.
“One of those men brandished a firearm from his waistband as he was fleeing,” Newman said. “As a response, an MPD officer just discharged his service weapon, firing a single shot.”
The footage shows Kay holding a firearm in his right hand before he’s shot. Officials say Kay threw the gun nearly 100 feet away, though it’s unclear from the footage if the teenager threw the gun before or after being shot. The other man who fled the scene hasn’t been located, Newsham said.
When asked about Kay’s alleged gun found about 98 feet away, Newsham said, “That does seem like a long way to throw a weapon.”
After the shooting, the footage shows the officer searching for the gun before describing what happened to others at the scene. Two others were arrested in the incident: Marcyelle Smith, 19, who was allegedly carrying a pistol without a license, and 18-year-old Deonte Brown, who allegedly didn’t have a permit. Two guns were ultimately recovered at the scene, police said.
On Thursday, MPD released two versions of the bodycam footage, a 4-minute-and-19-second video that includes narration from the police department and slowed-down footage of the shooting. The second version is nearly 11 minutes long and does not appear to be edited.
Alvarez and the other officer involved have been placed on administrative leave in accordance with MPD policy. Newsham said it’s too early in the investigation to tell if anyone will be terminated for the Wednesday incident. He added that this is the first time Alvarez has been involved in a shooting.
Defending his officers, Newsham stressed on Thursday that “when cops respond to these situations and they fear for their lives they are put under a lot of stress.” When asked if the shooting was justified, the police chief said, “There’s no way we can make this determination at this point.”
Shortly after the shooting, Black Lives Matter DC and dozens of residents arrived at the scene to protest and demand answers from police. On Thursday, protesters stood outside Bower’s home, chanting “say his name” while others held a banner reading “Fire Newsham.”
“I need my son back,” Kay’s mother, Natasha Kay, told The Washington Post on Wednesday evening. “I want my son back.”