Police body camera footage shows the moments when a D.C. officer fatally shot 18-year-old Deon Kay, then went to search for a gun he says he saw in Kay’s hand.
Kay, of Southeast D.C., was killed by a police officer on Wednesday afternoon. According to police, Kay was running from Seventh District patrol officers and pulled out a gun. Then, an officer shot him, police say.
The killing brought out scores of protesters Wednesday night and the following morning who demanded the release of police body camera footage.
Shortly after noon Thursday, the video was released. Police Chief Peter Newsham said the shooting was a “tragedy” and it was a “Herculean” task to release the footage less than 24 hours after the shooting.
The 11-minute video shows the shooting and its aftermath from one officer’s perspective.
At least one officer runs out of a car and shouts “Don’t move.” Within moments, that officer opens fire on Kay, who appears to have something in his right hand. The item was a gun, police say.
Kay cries out and falls to the ground.
As one officer tends to Kay, another can be heard searching for a gun that he says Kay threw. He looks on a playground near a housing complex and eventually says “I got it.” Emergency vehicles can be heard on their way.
An officer can be heard requesting a union representative.
“Look. You don’t say anything to anyone,” he can be heard saying.
The officer who apparently opened fire asks, “Is he in bad shape?” The second officer tells him to sit down and that “people are taking care of everything.” The video ends with officers appearing to escort away the officer who opened fire.
Police identified the officer who opened fire as Alexander Alvarez. He’s been on the force since 2018. He and Kay had prior contact, Newsham said.
The gun police reported seeing in Kay’s hand was found 98 feet from the scene of the shooting, Newsham said. A hill separates the scene of the shooting and the area where an officer appeared to be looking for a gun.
Police said in a “community briefing video” released at the same time as the longer video that a gun can be seen in Kay’s right hand when the video is viewed in slow motion.
Newsham said the video was released for the sake of transparency and to avoid misinformation in the community. He didn’t detail what sort of false information was circulating.
“The video has been put out so that everyone can go and look for themselves. You can stop it frame by frame and make your own determination,” he said.
He also said it's too early in the investigation to determine whether the officer's actions were justified.
Newsham characterized Kay as “a validated gang member” who was already known by name to some police officers.
“I’m pretty sure that Deon Kay fell through multiple safety nets before yesterday afternoon just before 4 o’clock,” he said. “This is a tragedy.”
Hours after protesters chanting “say his name,” “Deon Kay” and "no justice, no sleep," marched to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser's home Thursday morning to demand accountability in the shooting, Bowser offered sympathy to Kay’s family at the joint press conference with Newsham.
Kay’s mother was offered counseling services from the city, Bowser said.
“We are very sorry for her loss,” Bowser said. “She has our condolences.”
Interviews with Kay's family were not immediately available.
The shooting of Kay set off protests in the District within hours.
Crowds surrounded the Seventh District Police Station past midnight demanding police release video from the shooting. Protests were reinvigorated not long after sunrise on Thursday.
Marchers organized by Sunrise Movement DC gathered around 6 a.m. and headed north along 16th Street NW, calling for D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham to be fired over the shooting.
"We had to turn out because now is the time to put pressure on them," one protester said. "What we're seeing now is just a result of their inaction."
The group rallied behind a banner reading “Fire Newsham” in large red letters. Other signs said, “defund or resign.”
"I'm a Black person living in this city. I'm tired of seeing people like me get murdered. I'm tired of the mayor not being accountable for it. I'm tired of, like, Peter Newsham and his gang of killer cops that are terrorizing the city," one protester in a Black Lives Matter shirt said.
"I don't believe that any kind of existence, with a gun or not, merits death," another protester said.
Once in front of Mayor Bowser's home, the group chanted, "no justice, no peace" as police officers stood by.
Bowser's choice to wait until the following day to comment drew more criticism from protest groups that have for months said she hasn't done enough on police reform. Demonstraters have rallied at her home before, including to demand the defunding of police.
Since George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer in late May, rage over racism and injustice in policing have galvanized daily protests in D.C. Many groups including Black Lives Matter DC, Sunrise Movement DC, the Black Onyx Movement and Freedom Fighters DC have organized demonstrations attended by hundreds across the city.
Calls for both information and reform erupted soon after a police officer shot and killed Kay.
Police say that around 4 p.m. Wednesday, officers went to investigate reports of a man with a gun in the 200 block of Orange Street SE. Officers saw some people in and around a vehicle and when those people noticed the officers, two of them ran off and officers ran after them, police said.
Police say Kay took out a firearm during the pursuit. An officer then fired at Kay once, striking him, police said. Kay was pronounced dead at a hospital a short time later.
Two guns were recovered at the scene, police say. One belonged to Kay, according to police. The other was a ghost gun, which is a firearm without a serial number, Newsham said.
Two other men were arrested and charged. Marcyelle Smith, 19, of Southeast D.C., was charged with carrying a pistol without a license. Deonte Brown, 18, of Southeast, D.C., was charged with no permit, a driving-related charge.
According to D.C.'s new police reform law, police are required to make body cam video available to the victim's family and the public within five days of the incident. However, the family can request to keep the footage private.
Council Member Trayon White said the victim's mother told him her son was "a kid" and that he lived about two blocks away from where the shooting happened.
The officers involved in Kay's shooting are on administrative leave.
Analysis is underway on whether the gun police found was in Kay's hand.
Stay with News4 for more on this developing story