O∞cer’s killing of man is ruled legally justified
A D.C. police officer who fatally shot a man during a struggle for a weapon in Northeast Washington last year acted within the scope of the law, the U.S. attorney’s office for the District has concluded.
“There is sufficient evidence to corroborate the officer’s account that he was acting in self-defense at the time of the shooting,” according to a statement from prosecutors made public Friday.
Authorities have not publicly identified the officer.
The shooting occurred shortly after 2 a.m. on Feb. 1, 2016, in the 5300 block of Clay Terrace NE. Police identified the man who was killed as Peter John Jr., 36, of no fixed address.
At the time of the shooting, police said that an officer tried to stop a man near 53rd Street and Clay Terrace and shot him during a struggle after a brief foot chase. The weapon police said John had was later determined to be a pellet gun.
Prosecutors provided a more detailed account Friday. Their statement said that John ran when an officer pulled up to him in his cruiser, rolled down a window and asked whether he lived nearby. During a foot chase, prosecutors said John fell in a parking lot and it was then that the officer saw the black-colored weapon.
The statement said that the officer was unable to stop when John fell and ended up falling on top of John and straddling him on the pavement. The officer then activated his emergency button on his radio summoning quick help.
“Mr. John struggled repeatedly to push himself up from the ground while reaching under his body in the direction of the gun,” the statement from the U.S. attorney’s office read. “As Mr. John raised up, the officer fired one round, fatally wounding Mr. John in the neck area.”
Prosecutors said a surveillance video did not capture the shooting in the dimly lit area but showed “furtive movements” by John. Prosecutors also described John’s running as an “unprovoked flight from the officer.” The statement said that John’s DNA was found on the pellet gun.