Washington, DC – U.S. Park Police (USPP) have released bodycam footage from an incident last month during which a 17-year-old suspect behind the wheel of a stolen car was fatally shot after one officer became trapped inside the suspect vehicle and a second officer was dragged by it (video below).
The incident began at approximately 8:50 a.m. on March 18, when two U.S. Park Police (USPP) officers responded to the area of Baker Street and 34th Street to assist a DC police officer with a report of a stolen car, WRC reported.
The driver was later identified as 17-year-old Dalaneo “Debo” Martin.
DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers said Martin was nodding off or already asleep when they first arrived at the scene, according to The Washington Post.
The vehicle was running at the time.
The MPD officers then ran the plates on the car and discovered it had been reported as stolen, prompting their request for backup at the scene.
Two USPP officers responded to assist MPD.
The USPP released footage from both officers’ bodycams on April 4, designating them as Officer 1 and Officer 2.
The footage showed Officer 1 entering the suspect vehicle through the back passenger door as Officer 2 reached into the car through the back driver’s side door.
The officers announced themselves and ordered the suspect not to move as a struggle ensued inside the car.
Martin then stomped on the gas and the SUV began to accelerate.
Officer 2 was briefly dragged by the stolen vehicle before he was able to break free and fell to the ground, according to police.
He then alerted the other officers that Officer 1 was still inside the fleeing car, the video showed.
“Get off me!” Martin said as he drove away with Officer 1 still inside the vehicle.
“Stop! Stop man – just let me out,” the officer told him. “Let me go! Stop! Stop or I’ll shoot!”
Officer 1 then shot at the teen at least five times, bodycam footage showed.
Martin was hit by the gunfire and crashed into an occupied residence located in the 300-block of 36th Street Northeast, according to WRC.
No one inside the house was injured during the collision, but the building was damaged structurally, WTOP reported.
Another clip released by police showed officers rendering aid to Martin until emergency medical personnel arrived.
USPP spokesperson Thomas Twiname said the suspect succumbed to his wounds at the scene, WTOP reported.
Both injured USPP officers were transported to the hospital for treatment.
Their injuries were determined to be non-life threatening, WTOP reported.
Investigators said they recovered a firearm from inside the stolen SUV, according to WRC.
Community activist Nee Nee Taylor said Martin was the father of a five-month-old child, WJLA reported.
“I think everyone involved made mistakes but only one person, their life will be forever changed by the consequences that people made,” Taylor told the news outlet. “It’s just a matter of how we police.”
Martin’s mother began yelling at officers when she arrived at the scene in the wake of the incident, The Washington Post reported.
“You’re supposed to protect us!” she declared. “He was only 17!”
The identities of the officers involved in the incident have not been released.
The DC Metropolitan Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division is handling the ongoing investigation into the fatal officer-involved shooting.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and federal prosecutors announced after the videos were released that they have launched a civil rights investigation into the incident, CNN reported.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington called the footage “extremely upsetting.”
“The loss of a life is always tragic but is especially heartbreaking when it involves a child,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement. “In coordination with the FBI Washington Field Office, the United States Attorney’s Office has opened a civil rights investigation into the circumstances leading to Mr. Martin’s death. That investigation – which we are committed to conducting diligently and thoroughly – is ongoing.”
U.S. Park Police Union President Kenneth Spencer said he supports the officer who shot Martin, CNN reported.
“There is a lawful reason for him to be in the car, the use of force was justified and the union stands behind the actions the officers took,” Spencer said.
Jade Mathis, an attorney representing Martin’s family, said the officer who shot Martin needs to be held accountable, WTTG reported.
“The MPD officer specifically told all the officers not to get in the vehicle and if the driver takes off, let him go and do not chase him,” Mathis said. “As a result of this officer’s reckless disregard for the advisement from a 20-year police veteran, Mr. Martin was murdered. We are now asking for an independent DOJ investigation and for this officer to be held accountable.”
Martin’s mother, Terra Martin, was outraged after watching the bodycam footage.
“He murdered my son,” she told WTTG. “I want the name of the officer released to the public and for the officer to be terminated and prosecuted.”
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. Warning – Graphic Content and Obscene Language:
USPP releases body worn camera footage from March 2023 officer involved shooting
A word of caution: this video of an officer involved shooting contains graphic content and strong language. Viewer discretion is advised. pic.twitter.com/01PLiLaIKD
— Killmoenetwork inc. (@Killmoenetwork) April 4, 2023