Albert Jermaine Payton shooting in southeast raises questions

A deadly police involved shooting in southeast D.C. has some people asking questions.

Should officers have used deadly force or would tasers have been a better solution?

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A trio of stuffed animals sits along the 2400 Block of 4th Street in Southeast Washington.

"It's just sad," said Michael Smith, who lives nearby. "Somebody has lost a loved one. All that for no reason."

Twenty-four-year old Albert Payton was fatally wounded by police Friday evening.

"It's not necessary. I mean, for you to get out of your car and gun someone down," added Payton's upstairs neighbor, who spoke to ABC7 News on the condition her name not be used.

Police, responding to a report of 'threats to do bodily harm' around 5:45 PM, say they found Payton out on the street, carrying what witnesses describe as a steak or kitchen knife.

"(Officers) asked the gentleman to put down his knife several times," D.C. Assistant Police Chief Diane Groomes told reporters. "He failed to comply and went towards the officers at which time they shot him."

Police say Payton was shot multiple times. He was pronounced dead at an area hospital.

Some neighbors now wonder if officers could've used a taser to subdue Payton instead of gunfire.

"That was uncalled for," Smith said. "I guess they did what they thought they had to do, but it wasn't the right way to do it."

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier says she can't comment on an on-going investigation.

But in an email to ABC7 News, she wrote that she's not sure the benefits of tasers outweigh the risks. The chief added they are not currently in use by the MPD.

Still, the amount of bullets used to quell the situation is unknown at this point, which troubles some residents.

"Gunfire was everywhere, so many bullets flying. We didn't believe it. It was so horrific," said a witness, who asked that her name not be used.

Lanier says contrary to earlier media reports, numbered evidence markers at the scene, labeled '37', '38', '39' and so forth, don't necessarily show the number of shots fired. She says they can be used to tag other evidence discovered by investigators.

But several witnesses say they thought they heard as many as 20 gunshots.

And a witness who spoke with ABC7 disputes the police account.

"Once they pulled their guns, I believe he complied with what the cops told him to do," she says.

She says Payton dropped the knife, obeyed orders to not move and wasn't acting in a threatening manner before the officers opened fire.

"They didn't have to gun him down the way they did," she added. "An animal don't get shot that many times."

Neighbors say Payton was a quiet, physically large man, who may have had mental health issues.

"I think it's something that escalated and totally got out of hand," a neighbor said.

The two officers involved are now on administrative leave. Police say they're conducting an internal investigation.

It's not clear how long that investigation will take.

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