Officers with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) “acted recklessly and without a plan” when one of them fatally shot 18-year-old Deon Kay last year in Southeast Washington, even though the act was justified, according to a report by the Office of the DC Auditor.
Kay was shot and killed by DC police officer Alexander Alvarez on September 2, 2020 in a parking lot adjacent to 225 Orange Street, Southeast, following a police chase. Kay had turned 18 a few weeks before his death.
The use of deadly force by Alvarez was justified as self-defense, the new report concluded, but added that officers involved in the shooting “squandered any opportunity to de-escalate the situation” and that Officer Alvarez “unnecessarily placed himself in [the] situation’ that led to Mr. Kay’s death,” DC Auditor Kathy Patterson said.
Alvarez, along with several other members of the MPD Seventh District Crime Suppression Team, reportedly went looking for Kay and his friends after spotting two handguns they displayed in an Instagram Live feed from a rapper named Marcyelle Smith, who shares music videos as “Baby Fifty.”
Upon the police’s arrival, Kay got out of the black 2011 Dodge Caliber he was in and ran. Alvarez pursued him and shot the teen after he started running in the same direction as the officer, brandishing a pistol.
MPD released body-cam footage of the shooting on September 3, 2020, one day after the incident.
“While we will never know precisely Mr. Kay’s intentions, it was reasonable for Officer Alvarez to believe that he was under ‘imminent’ attack from an armed man and further to believe that he was at risk of death or serious bodily injury. We therefore found MPD’s conclusion that Officer Alvarez shot Mr. Kay in self-defense to be supported by the facts,” stated the report.
“However, the tactics that led to the use of force are a different matter, and we strongly disagree with the Kay Report’s tactical analysis that generally blessed the actions of the officers. First, as all of the involved officers acknowledged, no operational plan of any kind had been formulated,” it added.
The officers immediately launched the search for the suspects after seeing the live Instagram broadcast and did that “without consulting a higher level of management or devising anything resembling a tactical plan,” according to the report.
The report also said supervision of the Crime Suppression Team was largely absent and that the Department “needs to address promptly and aggressively the weaknesses in its system for investigating uses of deadly force.”
The report, made public on Tuesday, was prepared by The Bromwich Group, which provides crisis management counseling, for the Office of the DC Auditor. It is the fifth such report by the same company.