Warning: Please note that the content of the video is disturbing.
Cops released body cam footage on Friday from the fatal shooting of a naked, mentally ill man in Virginia. In a statement accompanying the video, the Richmond Police Department said that it is unedited except for censoring the man’s private parts, and except for adding a RPD watermark.
The incident happened May 14.
The police chief has said it’s too early to pass judgement in the midst of an ongoing investigation, but the family of the man says reform is needed.
As seen on video, the responding officer is standing at the side of a highway, approaching a gray sedan that apparently crashed on the side of the road. He approaches a naked man rolling around in the middle of the road, blocking traffic. This individual has been identified as Marcus-David Peters.
This is 24-year-old Marcus-David Peters, an unarmed man who a Richmond police officer shot & killed on I-95. Friends tell me he was caring and selfless and had a sense of humor and demeanor that could win over anyone.They also say, he will be dearly missed. @NBC12 #RVA pic.twitter.com/7CfAbBdgAM
— Allison Norlian (@AllisonNBC12) May 16, 2018
Peters stands up and confronts the officer.
“Back the fuck up!” he says. “Put that taser down or I’ll kill you.”
“I’ll deploy,” the officer says while holding a stun gun.
Peters continues to approach, and the office fires the stun gun. This seems to have some effect on Peters, but he apparently continues to keep running at the officer, who tells him to “Back up!”
The cop, armed with a gun, opens fire twice. Peters stumbled away alive, but he sustained injuries that he would not survive.
“Since I’ve been here, we have never encountered a situation like this, ladies and gentlemen,” Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham said in a press conference covered by NBC 12. “Never. And the first time, people want answers right then and there. I don’t have answers. We want a fair and thorough investigation. Do not pass judgement. If you do, shame on you.”
He said that the case shouldn’t be run through the media or social media, and that he couldn’t even comment on the officers actions during the ongoing criminal investigation. Durham said the video release wasn’t done to “demean, humiliate, or cast a negative shadow over Mr. Peters or his family,” but was done in the interest of transparency, and to address misinformation and speculation.
Peters’ family saw the video before it was publicly released.
“There’s no question that Marcus was having a mental health episode, so the officer recognized that,” said family attorney Jonathan Halperin in a Wednesday report by WRIC. “The issue is what should have been done from that moment of recognition forward.”
Peters’ sister Princess Branding said her brother was “clearly, very clearly was in distress, in major distress and he needed help, not death.” She wanted reform. That means offices needed more training, and alternatives in interacting with people who they recognize as dealing with a mental health issue.
Peters had been involved in three hit and runs before the fatal encounter, officers said. The officer involved, Michael Nyantakyi, remains on administrative leave. When the criminal probe is done, a report will be sent to the Commonwealth Attorney to review whether or not the deadly force was justified, Durham said. On Friday, police also released security camera footage of events leading up to the shooting. It depicts Peters gradually disrobing before entering a gray sedan and driving off. This video is heavily edited, Durham said at the press conference.
[Screengrab via Richmond Police Department]