Last month, a Black teenage boy was shot and killed by a U.S. Park Police officer after being woken out of his sleep to a group of cops surrounding his vehicle, according to NBC News. The body camera footage of the incident was released publicly Wednesday and caught the interest of the FBI to investigate the incident further.
On March 18, 17-year-old Dalaneo Martin was found sleeping in the driver seat of a vehicle with the engine running. U.S. Park Police approached the car after Metropolitan police officers dialed them for assistance in locating a “suspicious vehicle” near River Terrace Park. The body camera footage shows the officers cautiously approaching the vehicle, discussing on the sidewalk to let Martin go if he tries to take off. Though, one Park Police officer opens the back door and climbs in behind the passenger seat. An MPD officer is heard warning him, “Please don’t get caught inside. Don’t get inside that car.”
On the other side of the car, one officer opens the door behind the driver’s seat and another cop opens the driver’s door. Suddenly, chaos ensues.
All three officers begin grabbing at Martin to put him in handcuffs. Martin then accelerates the car. The officers on the driver’s side managed to get out, at the cost of one nearly being dragged and tumbling onto the pavement. Though, the other officer in the backseat remained in the moving car, holding his firearm to Martin demanding he stop the car or get shot.
Seconds later, Martin was shot multiple times in the back and the vehicle plowed into a home.
“The loss of a life is always tragic but is especially heartbreaking when it involves a child,” the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement. “On Saturday, March 18th, 17-year-old Dalaneo Martin tragically died after a shooting involving the U.S. Park Police, and we recognize that the body-worn camera footage just released of his death is extremely upsetting. We extend our condolences to Mr. Martin’s family and friends.”
The statement continued: “In coordination with the FBI Washington Field Office, the United States Attorney’s Office has opened a civil rights investigation into the circumstances leading to Mr. Martin’s death. That investigation—which we are committed to conducting diligently and thoroughly—is ongoing. As this is an open matter, we are not able to provide additional comment or release further information at this time.”
Authorities say a gun was recovered from the scene but they did not say whether the car was truly stolen or not, per Fox 5 DC. The FBI’s probe will hopefully clarify how MPD and Park Police officers are trained to approach situations like these but more importantly if they erred in their procedure. What would have happened if the officer listened to his colleagues and didn’t go inside the vehicle?
Martin leaves behind a seven-month-old son. The funeral is planned for April 13 and his mother, Terra, set up a GoFundMe to raise money for the expenses.