WASHINGTON - City officials have released police body camera footage in a police-involved shooting of a 63-year-old Northeast D.C. man in June.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser authorized the release of the video Thursday of the June 27th incident that happened at around 10:22 p.m. in the 100 block of Varnum Street. It is the first time that the city is making officer body camera video from a deadly police shooting public. It was released even though the case is still under investigation.
According to police, officers from the Fourth District responded to a 911 call for a man with a gun. When officers arrived, they found Sherman Evans holding a weapon, which was later determined to be a BB gun. Over several minutes, officers ordered Evans to drop the gun several times, but he refused. After raising the weapon towards the officers, police shot Evans. In the video, more than a dozen shots can be heard, but the actual shooting is not seen because the camera was blocked by a vehicle the officer was behind.
Evans was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
WARNING: Video may be considered graphic and contains strong language. Viewer discretion is advised.
Authorities released video from two different officers equipped with a body camera – an officer who was one of the first on the scene and another officer who captured footage after the shooting.
Flowers and candles have been placed outside of Evans’ apartment building. Police said he was the one who actually called 911 leading some to believe this was an act of suicide by cop.
D.C. police’s Internal Affairs Bureau and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are separately investigating the shooting.
As far as the timing of the release of the video, the mayor’s spokesperson told FOX 5 they had planned to release this footage on Thursday and it was a coincidental that other high-profile police shootings made headlines nationwide this week. The spokesperson also said the mayor authorized the release of the footage because she felt it was of public interest and transparency is a priority of her administration.
However, D.C. Police Union chairman Matthew Mahl said he disagrees with the move to release the video during an ongoing investigation. In a statement, Mahl said:
"As most of you are aware, the Mayor’s Office has made the decision to release body camera footage of a police-involved shooting that took place on June 27 in the Fourth District.
I watched this video early this morning, and I would like to say first and foremost how proud I am of all the members involved in this situation. Your dedication to duty and respect for life are clearly portrayed in the video I watched.
As a reminder I want to emphasize that video - and especially body camera video - only present a very small piece to a large and complex puzzle. It is almost impossible to make any determination as to whether the use of force is justified or unjustified from one video, and I urge everyone to use restraint before making any type of judgment regarding the actions of the officers in this video or any other video that gets released.
I firmly believe the release of this video is absolutely inappropriate given where this incident is in the investigative process. There is an appropriate time when our body camera videos should be released, and that time is after any criminal or administrative investigations have concluded. I have made my feelings known on the inappropriateness of this video being released prematurely to those in the city government, and that by their release of the video, my members could perceive they are not being supported by the mayor’s office.
It is my hope that this single incident does not set any type of precedent, and body camera footage will be released at a more appropriate time in the future. This is a difficult time both mentally and emotionally for the members involved, and I do not want this hasty action by the mayor’s office to jeopardize anything more than our member’s perception of their city leaders.
As always, be safe, and watch you and your brothers’ and sisters’ backs."