WASHINGTON - A local family is calling on D.C. Police and U.S. Park Police to let them view the video connected to a police pursuit that ended in a fatal motorcycle crash.
Police identified the man killed as 29-year-old James Darien Herndon of Hyattsville, Maryland.
The fatal crash happened about three weeks ago in the early morning hours of Monday, June 27th.
"It is troubling that two weeks after the passing of James this family has still not been given the opportunity to review any BWC footage from any of the officers involved with the chase, and neither have they been given any opportunity to review any dashcam footage, which by all reports, would’ve been able to capture the ‘how, when and why’ it is that James’ vehicle came to a stop and caused his death. The Herndon family demands answers," said attorney Brian K. McDaniel.
McDaniel, who is with The Cochran Firm, held a news conference with Herndon’s wife and a close family friend on Friday morning. They called for justice and transparency in the case.
The attorney also said the family will likely pursue a civil lawsuit and they are conducting their own investigation into the matter. He's hopeful police will share video material with the attorneys.
"I’m very frustrated. I’m very frustrated. I’m very angry," Miyauna Herndon, the crash victim’s wife, told FOX 5.
D.C. Police said the incident started in the 3rd District at around 1:45 a.m. on June 27. It’s well known D.C. police have a no chase policy. However, police say the pursuit was approved.
"Members believed the driver was wanted in connection to a homicide," a press release stated.
The pursuit was ended around 2:48 p.m., after it was determined he was not a suspect, but instead a person wanted for questioning.
U.S. Park Police told FOX 5 that's when they received a request for assistance from MPD. Around 3:02 a.m. Park Police continued the pursuit, and it ended in a fatal crash just before the bridge at Benning Road and Oklahoma.
Police said Herndon lost control of his motorcycle, mounted a curb and was thrown from the vehicle.
D.C. Police also said a firearm and drugs were found after.
Miyauna Herndon said she had just married Darien in February.
"Having a firearm, narcotics, I never experienced that," she said. "So that was like a major thing for me. All I know is he was a good man,"
Mrs. Herndon described her husband as the "live of the party" who loved everyone, especially his 5 and 8-year-old children.
"If he had a firearm or didn’t, if he had narcotics or did not would provide cover for the MPD and Park Police as it relates to their violation of their own general orders," McDaniel said. "I view that as an effort in some way to shift the focus from what responsibility MPD had and what responsibility Park Police had."
"Victim blaming," is what McDaniel called it. He believes officers violated pursuit policies and says lingering questions include why the pursuit started and whether any officer’s vehicles came in contact with Herndon’s motorcycle before the crash.
It’s not clear if Herndon was wearing a helmet.
McDaniel said "to be fair" they submitted a request for the family to view any associated video last week. He expressed hope police would work with Herndon’s family on the matter.
FOX 5 asked about why Herndon did not stop. It’s a question the family wishes they could ask Herndon, McDaniel explained in part of his response.
Park Police confirmed for FOX 5 that while the department is working on it, U.S. Park Police officers do not have body warn cameras yet.
FOX 5 was also told there are no cruiser dashcams.
A response from the U.S. Park Police Spokesperson reads:
On Monday, June 27, at approximately 02:30 a.m., the United States Park Police responded to a request to assist the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) with a pursuit that MPD reported was for a homicide suspect, as USPP is authorized to do. Any time a pursuit results in a loss of life it is regrettable and we take that very seriously. In accordance with USPP policy, the incident is under investigation by our internal affairs office. The USPP continues to work with MPD on the ongoing investigation into this incident. We are committed to a fair and thorough investigation and cannot comment further at this time.
The U.S. Attorney’s office told FOX 5 they are reviewing the matter, as they do for all officer-involved fatalities but had no further comment.