D.C. Police Release Footage Following Their Fatal Shooting Of Antwan Gilmore
D.C. has released body camera footage from the officers who killed a 27-year-old man, Antwan Gilmore, on New York Ave. NE early Wednesday morning.
It was the second police shooting in the District in less than 12 hours, according to the Metropolitan Police Department. The other shooting, on Minnesota Ave. SE, was not fatal.
Around 2:45 a.m. Wednesday morning, someone called 911 to report that a driver in a black BMW appeared to be unconscious, stopped at a traffic light in the travel lanes of New York Avenue NE near Florida Avenue, Police Chief Robert Contee said at a press conference Wednesday morning. When police arrived on the scene they saw the man had a handgun in his waistband, according to the chief's account. The officer then called for backup and a ballistic shield "to shield themselves from potential gunfire," Contee said. Several officers responded, arriving within 20 minutes.
"[Officers] attempted to wake the individual. At some point he awakened, and at that point, that individual was engaged by officers, and at some point, from there shots were fired," Contee said. The man was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said. He was later identified as 27 year-old Antwan Gilmore of Capitol Heights.
D.C. resident Jordan White said she personally witnessed the shooting, recorded it, and posted the video on Instagram. Her video offers additional detail beyond what Contee initially shared.
White told DCist/WAMU she was driving past the intersection on her way to console her best friend, who had just lost someone to the coronavirus. But when she saw a crowd of police officers near Gilmore's car parked at the intersection, she decided she needed to stop and document what she saw. The area is dark and the video is shot from a distance, but at least eight police officers can be seen in the footage.
"Your automatic instinct is just to record ... with all that's going on," she said.
White saw police tap repeatedly on the car's window. Police returned to the car several times and then surrounded it, aiming their guns at the driver's side window.
Several minutes into the video, the car begins to move forward. The car stops momentarily, then moves slightly forward again, at which point police begin firing into the car window.
"It was like as soon as the car jumped, they just started shooting," said White. White said the car kept moving, but eventually crashed.
An unnamed police official told The Washington Post that the BMW rolled or was driven several blocks until it struck a tree.
White says that from her vantage point, she did not see any gunfire coming out of the car and towards officers. The windows of the car were heavily tinted, so she could not see inside the car, but she says that she did not see the man roll his window down.
White said that after the shooting, she turned to two Black men who were also stopped in a car next to her.
"They were crying, and I was crying. We were just like, 'I can't believe I just witnessed them kill somebody,'" she said. White said thoughts of the man's family instantly started running through her head.
"That's somebody's son. It could be somebody's father, husband, boyfriend, and they're not going to make it home," she thought. "And they have no clue. It was sad. It's just sad."
Late Wednesday evening, after DCist and other news outlets had reported on White's footage of the incident, MPD issued another press release about the shooting of Gilmore that offered details beyond what were shared in the initial press conference. Police said that after MPD members "attempted to engage" Gilmore, he "reacted and moved the vehicle forward."
"Members ordered him to stop the vehicle and he did," the press release said. "The driver then proceeded forward as an MPD member discharged their service weapon multiple times, striking the driver inside the vehicle."
And on Thursday, MPD released body camera video that confirms much of White's account. It shows officers attempting to wake Gilmore by shining flashlights at him and tapping on his window. Gilmore woke up, and his car began to move. Police asked Gilmore to stop the car, and he did. Then, as his car began to move again, a police officer shot at him ten times. The footage does not show Gilmore roll down his window. Contee said that the gun that officers initially saw in the car was on the right side of Gilmore's waistband. After Gilmore was shot and his car crashed, officers recovered the gun from the right side of his waistband.
Contee said at a press conference Thursday that because of the ballistic shield that the officer was holding, "it is very difficult to see what he saw at the point where he fired his weapon." He also said that shooting at a moving vehicle is a violation of department policy, but it was too early to make a determination about wrongdoing.
"I offer the deepest sympathies and condolences to the family," Contee said Thursday. "Unfortunately, sometimes as a result of our duties we are required to use force ... but in those instances, we must be committed to transparency."
"There is an active investigation and a grieving family," said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser at Thursday's press conference. "We will thoroughly investigate and transmit our investigation to the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. It is our responsibility to the public to investigate thoroughly and impartially this officer's actions and adherence to MPD policy."
D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson tweeted a statement Wednesday morning saying Contee needs to swiftly determine whether the police use of force was justified.
"However, so little is known right now about the fatal shooting on New York Avenue that it would be inappropriate to either defend or condemn the police at this time," Mendelson wrote. "But it must be said that lethal force should rarely be used, and every measure must be taken to avoid fatal force."
Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis George also responded on Twitter. "Sitting here trying to figure out how law enforcement can successfully deescalate a white domestic terrorist in a truck threatening to blow up the Capitol with a bomb but not a Black man who fell asleep in his car?" she wrote, citing the hours-long negotiation police had with a white man who parked in front of the Library of Congress and told police he had explosives in his car.
It was the second shooting by D.C. police in less than 12 hours. An officer shot a man on the 1700 block of Minnesota Avenue SE Tuesday evening after confronting him about suspected drug use, Contee said at a press conference Tuesday evening.
An officer spoke with the man, and they parted ways, according to Contee's account. As the man left, the officer noticed what he believed to be a gun; the officer called for backup and tried to stop the man from leaving, Contee said, and then the man pulled the gun on the officer. The officer attempted to stop the man from brandishing the firearm, and when the man didn't heed his warnings to stop, the officer fired at the man, according to Contee.
The man was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, the chief said.
"This is a brave officer who was out here doing his job," Contee said. "He was actually showing compassion by moving someone who was involved in the use of illegal drugs, moving that person on. But unfortunately this person was armed and decided to pull a firearm on the officer and he defended himself."
At Wednesday morning's press conference, Contee said it was not yet clear if the man fired his gun at the officer. In a press release Wednesday evening, the police department said that the man had fired his weapon towards the officer, and had been charged with assault on a police officer while armed. The incident is under investigation.
This story is from DCist.com, the local news website of WAMU.
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