Montgomery County, MD – A Montgomery County grand jury determined four Gaithersburg police officers will not face criminal charges in connection with the officer-involved shooting death of an armed suspect accused of opening fire on them during a foot pursuit in January.
The grand jury ruled on Oct. 7 that there was insufficient evidence to charge the four Gaithersburg Police Department (GPD) officers who fired their duty weapons during the Jan. 8 encounter with 24-year-old Kwamena Ocran, WTOP reported.
Plainclothes officers with the GPD’s Street Crimes Unit were tracking Ocran after his alleged involvement in an illegal firearms purchase, according to the news outlet.
Ocran had recently been incarcerated for robbery and was not legally allowed to possess firearms, the Associated Press reported.
The suspect has also allegedly said he would “shoot it out” with police if they tried to arrest him because he was “not going back to jail,” prosecutors said.
The investigators decided to arrest Ocran in the parking lot of the Chelsea Park apartment complex based off the tip he was trying to sell a gun he was illegally carrying, WUSA reported.
Police said Ocran started running from them when they identified themselves.
As the officers gave chase, the suspect allegedly turned around and pointed a handgun at them, WUSA reported.
They later told investigators they saw a “muzzle flash” from the suspect’s weapon, and one officer reported having heard a bullet fly past his head, according to the Associated Press.
All four officers returned fire as Ocran fled, hitting him a total of eight times.
Two of the rounds struck him in his “left lateral back,” prosecutors said.
Ocran died from his wounds, WTOP reported.
Investigators recovered a handgun next to the suspect after the officer-involved shooting.
They also found 23 shell casings, but discovered they all came from the four officers’ weapons, WTOP reported.
The plainclothes officers were not wearing bodycams, according to WUSA.
Crime scene technicians conducted three separate sweeps of the scene with a metal detector, but were unable to turn up any casings connected with Ocran’s gun, according to the Associated Press.
According to Howard County Deputy State’s Attorney Christopher Sandmann, police prepped the suspect’s hands in anticipation of a gunshot residue analysis, but the test was never completed due to a “mistake or miscommunication.”
Investigators did find gunshot residue on Ocran’s right sleeve, which an expert witness testified could have been transferred by the rounds fired by the officers, the Associated Press reported.
Sandmann and Howard County State’s Attorney Rich Gibson told the grand jury the lack of gunshot residue and shell casing evidence did not mean the officers were lying about what occurred and noted the evidence could simply have been lost in the mud.
Brian McDaniel, the attorney representing Ocran’s family, alleged the officer-involved shooting was unjustified and said the armed suspect presented no threat to the officers, WTOP reported.
McDaniel said he plans to conduct an independent probe into the incident, according to the Associated Press.
“Those police officers that committed that heinous crime against my son should not have been placed on administrative leave. They should have been arrested and charged with murder,” Ocran’s mother, Melody Cooper, told WUSA during a protest in July. “I don’t see the sense in the way they assassinated my son.”
The four GPD officers who shot Ocran have been identified as 17-year department veteran Sergeant Willie Delgado, eight-year department veteran Corporal Larbi Dakkouni, five-year department veteran Officer James Doyle, and five-year department veteran Kyle Khuen, WJLA reported.
They remain on administrative leave while the GPD conducts an internal investigation into the incident, according to the Associated Press.