Social media immediately began exploding with people condemning the police as murderers after officers shot a man armed with knives at the end of September, killing him.
Before the day was over, the ACLU was attacking the officers over the outcome.
“A Black man was killed in Hyattsville this morning,” the ACLU chapter said in a statement. “He was in a disoriented state when officers with the Prince George’s County, Mt. Rainier, and Hyattsville Police Departments shot and killed him during a confrontation. Given the pattern of Maryland law enforcement officers gunning down Black and Brown people and their selective release of information, we are challenging the officers’ narrative. Their language only continues to paint victims as threats while wiping their hands clean of any wrongdoing.”
But now those same activists are quieting after Bob Ross, President of the NAACP Prince George County chapter, reviewed the footage and came out in support of the officers at the scene.
Ross noted that while everyone was going after the officers for shooting the man, no one was talking about how they had exhausted every possible non-lethal measure to resolve the situation peacefully.
Thursday morning, a man armed with two knives was shot and killed by police. It happened in Hyattsville, Maryland. According to officers they used eight non-lethal weapons to try and deescalate the situation first. Now the ACLU is attacking the… https://t.co/Mv3AJpsCAe
— Mark Bell (@mtbell7) September 27, 2019
The man killed was Leonard Shand, 49. Ross said it was clear to him that the officers had tried to do everything in their power to calm him down and resolve the situation without firing their weapons.
“They talked to him, asked if he wanted cigarettes, they learned his name,” Ross said.
According to NBC 4 Washington, the officers at the scene attempted to end the situation without turning to deadly force, using everything from bean bag shotgun rounds to flash bang grenades and Tasers. Pepper spray also proved unsuccessful in taking down the dangerous assailant.
The fatal event all began when local authorities received a call just after 7 a.m. on September 26 about an armed suspect in a coffee shop. Days earlier, the same man had allegedly used a metal pole to strike an employee in the head.
Police were on the scene four minutes later. A standoff between Shand and officers began.
Hyattsville Police Chief Amal Awad said that the suspect had been armed with two knives, and was making threatening remarks to police at the scene about how he was coming to get them.
Police leadership addresses officer-involved shooting in the City of Hyattsville https://t.co/sUrxYNjnID
— PGPDNEWS (@PGPDNews) September 26, 2019
Police from three local law enforcement agencies converged on the scene and attempted to use non-lethal methods to force the armed suspect to surrender. According to NBC 4, officers deployed a Taser three times, deployed pepper spray, used a flash bang device and additionally fired bean bag rounds at the man.
But each attempt at incapacitating the man and forcing a surrender failed, authorities said.
Chief Awad said that after unsuccessfully attempting to stop the man using non-lethal tactics, he charged at an officer.
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When he sprinted forward, all 10 officers on the scene opened fire, striking Shand multiple times and killing him.
“Our officers were trying to keep this individual away from traffic, away from pedestrians, away from people going about their morning routine,” Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski said.
They say that the officers did an incredible job at minimizing the danger that the threat posed, including working around morning commuters and children on their way to school.
The ACLU’s comments came out the same afternoon that the shooting occurred.
“The police claim to have spent nearly 30 minutes containing this man and using ‘less than lethal force,’ which is not the same thing as de-escalation. Based on the press conference PGPD gave, there was no mention of a health professional ever called to come on-scene to peacefully de-escalate the situation. Instead officers followed the man with their guns pointed.
“Officers used a flashbang grenade, which inevitably led to the killing of this man, who has not yet been identified. Running away from an exploding flashbang grenade is a natural and inevitable response. The police created a dangerous situation, causing an armed man to run towards them, and then used the inevitable result of their actions as the justification to shoot him.
“This was exemplified today with the PGPD Twitter account (@PGPDNews) choosing to release photos of bloody knives that the victim was alleged to have been carrying, instead of the vast body cam and/or dashcam footage that they claim to have of the incident. Bystanders, however, have taken numerous videos of what happened. In the footage released, nobody was seen to be stabbed. The police officers shot multiple times, and not only left bullet holes in the victim’s body but bullet holes in nearby buildings that could have easily hit any other passerby.
“Poor training and systematic racism are not excuses for Maryland police agents to kill Black and Brown people at will with no accountability. Together we must put a stop to police brutality and the needless killings of Black and Brown people. We cannot afford to fail in this goal because lives are at stake. #BlackLivesMatter”
But now with the expressed support of the NAACP, the details and truth surrounding this shooting will hopefully reach throughout the country.
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