Police release body cam video of man fatally shot by officer in DC on Christmas Day
WASHINGTON (WJLA) - The Metropolitan Police Department released body cam video on Wednesday of a man who was fatally shot by an officer during a reported domestic disturbance on Christmas Day in Northeast Washington.
Police say Gerald "Javon" Hall, 29, refused repeated commands to drop a knife he was carrying. Hall was shot by the officer and died from his injuries at an area hospital. A knife was recovered, according to police.
The officers involved in the shooting were placed on routine administrative leave, and authorities say those officers were wearing body cameras, which were reviewed as part of an investigation.
Hall's family claims the body cam footage authorities allowed them to watch disputes what police say actually occurred.
“On this video [you will] hear the officer say, ‘Put the knife down, put the knife down, put the knife down!’” said Q James, Hall’s cousin. “But you will also not see a knife in his hand to put down."
"I am absolutely certain - absolutely certain - that he did not have a knife,” Hall’s sister, Riquita McCain, said after watching the video. “I have no idea why that man shot my brother.”
Hall’s family says his girlfriend is in the video and that she tells officers he did not have a knife.
The shooting took place in the 3200 block of Walnut Street NE.
WARNING -- The video below may not be suitable for all viewers. View with caution.
On Monday during the D.C. Council’s Swearing-In Ceremony, a group of “Black Lives Matter” protestors stood in front of Bowser denouncing the police killing of Hall and others.
But during Tuesday’s media briefing, the mayor’s office released 911 transcripts of women, seemingly frantic telling police that Hall was threatening people with a knife, that he had turned on the gas on a stove inside the house and that he was beating his girlfriend, whom one of the callers said was her sister.
When police arrived, one of the callers led police to the house. Within seconds, the video shows Hall's girlfriend sitting on the threshold of the entryway, the police told her to move and then, seconds later, they spot Hall with a knife. One officer yells several times to put the knife down before he fires four shots from a distance of less than six feet. Hall is later seen on the floor. One officer reaches under Hall and removes the knife while another runs to get a first aid kit. Hall is later declared dead at a hospital.
Mayor Muriel Bowser refused to say whether she believed the shooting was justified, but she said her body-worn camera program is important in cases like this one.
While Hall’s mother, who saw the video earlier, told reporters that she saw no knife in her son’s hands. The knife can briefly be seen in the video and it shows the officer retrieve the knife after the shooting.
“I can only imagine what it’s like for a mom to have to watch that kind of video," said Interim Police Chief Peter Newsham. “I’m sure there’s trauma, associated to have to watch your son, be involved in a situation like that.”
The mayor has not released the shooting officer’s name as she did in the case of Terrence Sterling, who was killed by D.C. Police in a controversial incident last September. Her spokesman said in that instance the body worn camera was not turned on at the time of the shooting and there were no 911 tapes.
“Part of the investigation will be to determine whether or not the shooting was justified….And then more importantly, part of the investigation will be whether or not we could have done something differently to prevent this from happening," Newsham said.