The Washington Post

D.C. mother says U.S. marshals needlessly shot, killed her son

Man with troubled past had been in city program to help turn life around


Months before two deputy U.S. marshals fatally shot him, Alaunte Scott had graduated from a D.C. government program meant to help people vulnerable to violence get full-time jobs.

His mother said the program, called Pathways, appeared to benefit her 22-year-old son. She felt Scott was on the verge of achieving security and stability.

But on Tuesday afternoon, as Scott was taking out the trash near an apartment in the Washington Highlands neighborho­od, his mother said, two deputy U.S. marshals approached, seeking to take him into custody on a parole violation.

D.C. Police Chief Robert J. Contee III said Scott fled as the marshals confronted him. The chief said the marshals then saw him with a gun and shot him. Contee said the man “produced” the gun but did not specify how he held it or whether he fired it.

The incident once again left a mother grieving over law enforcemen­t killing her son — a Black man who she said was trying to change his life with help from one government agency, while another sought to take him into custody so he could be held accountabl­e for alleged crimes.

“They hunted my son,” said his mother, Alanta Scott. “He didn’t pose no threat.”

Alaunte Scott had been charged in multiple criminal cases, but the marshals were seeking him that day in the 4300 block of Third Street SE on only one arrest warrant, said Bryan Fleck, a spokesman for the U.S. marshal for D.C. Superior Court. That warrant charged him with violating the terms of his parole from a prior conviction of carrying a pistol without a license in the District.

The marshals who fired their weapons were not wearing body cameras, authoritie­s have said, though the agency has a pilot program for cameras in some cities. Officials said D.C. police officers who arrived at the scene after the marshals shot Scott were equipped with body cameras, and that footage will be reviewed as part of the investigat­ion.

“The agency has too much money for those officers to not have had on body cameras, especially with all the things that have been transpirin­g over the last couple of years,” Alanta Scott said. “This is one reason why we don’t trust the police. Him having a gun and fleeing does not warrant the same as police killing him.”

She said an investigat­or told her that the marshals shot her son in the back. The Marshals Service, D.C. police and the D.C. medical examiner’s office declined to comment on that account.

Alaunte Scott had faced violence and been involved in crime as a teenager. He was shot as a 16-year-old and by 18 was breaking into cars, according to court records and proceeding­s.

Scott grew up in Northwest Washington, eating cheeseburg­ers at the Cheesecake Factory and spending weekends playing laser tag and going to the movies with his two siblings — one older sister and one younger brother, his mother said.

Alanta Scott said her son played basketball at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School. She remembered sitting in the stands and making eye contact with him on the court.

“He would just look at me, I would look at him, and we would nod at each other,” she said. The mother and son had the same goofy laugh and, increasing­ly, what seemed like the same facial structure, she said. Alanta Scott called him her twin.

“He is very loving, very caring,” she said. “He always gave me hugs and always gave me kisses.”

As a child, Alaunte Scott also relished time he spent with his father. One day in 2013, they spent hours together playing video games. The next day, his father, Nick Boddie, was killed after a person broke into his house and stabbed him, Alanta Scott said. She said her son was never quite the same.

In 2019, Montgomery County police arrested Alaunte Scott in connection with stealing one car and items from two others parked nearby, according to court records. He was released pending trial and, in 2021, arrested again in Montgomery amid allegation­s he and others took a car and broke into another, according to court records.

The two cases were rolled in a plea agreement and, in May 2022, he appeared in Montgomery Circuit Court. There, three people spoke on his behalf: his attorney, his mother and his mentor, Fernando Smith, from the D.C. Office of Gun Violence Prevention.

Smith told the judge that Scott’s father had been killed, and that he lacked positive male role models while growing up. He had been shot for the first time when he was 16, according to Smith.

Smith told Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Mary Beth Mccormick that Scott needed the structure of D.C. programs that target youths at risk, including Pathways and Project Empowermen­t. The programs would pay Scott to go to classes to get “employment-ready,” Smith said.

“He hasn’t had any positive male role models in his life. His dad was murdered. He was shot twice. And I believe that what we have is more of a victim that is making wrong decisions as he’s growing into adulthood,” Smith told the judge, according to an audio recording of the hearing. “I don’t believe he had the psychologi­cal developmen­t necessary to make good decisions. . . . We have the programs in place in Washington, D.C., so that we can try to save his life.”

Smith said he had gotten to know Scott from his mother and from the D.C. probation office. He said that Scott, a father of two, needed parenting classes, counseling and job-skills classes.

Scott also spoke. He thanked his attorney, mother and mentor for speaking on his behalf.

“Good,” said Mccormick. “How are you going to live your life differentl­y?”

Scott told her about the D.C. programs that could help him secure a good job. And he spoke of being a dad.

“I’m really focused on my kids right now,” he said, referring to his daughter Anouri, now 2, and his son AJ, now 1. “I’m really trying to be a father, the right kind of father, and not just being around just to be around. Trying to actually be involved in my kids’ life.”

Following the plea agreement, prosecutor­s did not ask for additional jail time. Scott had already served six months and 11 days in the case. Mccormick placed him on three years of probation. Among the terms: He was to participat­e in either the Pathways or Project Empowermen­t programs.

D.C. officials declined to discuss Scott’s time in either program, saying they cannot comment on individual participan­ts.

Alanta Scott said she saw positive changes in her son during his time in the programs but grew nervous that his progress was unraveling after he graduated from Pathways in November.

“He was doing very good in the program. I just think that if the program didn’t end, he wouldn’t have the time to do other stuff,” she said. “He was on a great path. It was like once those things went away . . . yeah.”

The final conversati­on she had with her son was about mistakes. It was a week before he was killed.

“We all make mistakes,” she told him. “No one is perfect, even me.”

Scott told his mom he knew that, she said, and that he was doing the best he could.

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