At Vigil for Man Killed by DC Officers, Activists Question Police Response

Some people who attended the vigil confronted officers who positioned their cars near the gathering.

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Friends, family and Black Lives Matter activists gathered Sunday to remember Deandre Johnson, a man shot and killed by D.C. police on Oct. 18. 

They are asking for more information on what led to his killing and whether authorities used de-escalation tactics before turning to lethal force. 

“His death is questionable,” one person said into a microphone. “We are not scrutinizing. We are not looking for ourselves, but the people we lose deserve that and more.”

The deadly shooting took place in an apartment in the 1300 block of Congress Street SE at about 4:35 p.m. as officers served a temporary protective order, police said.

Johnson had allegedly used a gun to threaten a woman two days earlier, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee said. Sources told News4 Johnson held a gun to the head of his child’s mother and she went to police seeking protection.

Police said an officer shot Johnson when he reached for an officer’s gun while resisting arrest. 

Body camera video showing part of the encounter between Johnson and officers was released, but Contee said it does not clearly show whether Johnson was able to take the officer’s gun out of the holster. One officer’s bodycam deactivated and reactivated during the struggle.

Some people who attended the vigil confronted officers who positioned their cars near the gathering. They all eventually drove away.  

“This is purposeful. They have never been this close to a vigil before, ever,” an activist said as police sirens lit up her face. 

Activists said they will keep pushing for more information, and Johnson’s family members are demanding that the department release the name of the officer who fired at him. 

"This Black life right here, it matters to me. I didn't have to know him to know that it matters," another participant said.

Three officers are on leave as Johnson’s death is investigated.

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