The family of the late Kevin Hargraves-Shird recently revealed plans to file a civil suit against the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) for its involvement in Hargraves-Shird’s death.
This development comes less than a week after the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia decided against criminally charging MPD Sergeant Reinaldo Otero-Camacho, the man who shot and killed Hargraves-Shird last July at the culmination of a vehicular pursuit in upper Northwest.
A Feb. 9 statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office said that MPD’s review of the shooting found insufficient evidence.
Authorities said their investigation included a review of police and witness statements, a police report, body-worn camera footage, an autopsy report, forensic reports, recorded audio communication and physical evidence.
Yaida Ford, the attorney representing Hargraves-Shird’s family, said that by not collecting a statement from Otero-Camacho, the U.S. Attorney’s investigation didn’t go far enough.
“The finding is medically and factually inaccurate,” Ford said “He’s under internal affairs review and [the U.S. attorney’s decision] gives him cover. Failing to conduct a fair investigation leaves the officer free of facing prosecution. If the U.S. attorney’s office can’t prosecute him, then who can?”
When this case goes to civil court, the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia will represent MPD.
Ford said that it remains unclear if the U.S. Attorney’s office received witness statements. She also revealed that investigators didn’t canvas Fort Slocum Park, the site of the police-involved shooting, until weeks after Hargraves-Shird’s death.
Another point of contention, Ford said, centers on MPD’s insistence that Hargraves-Shird was facing Otero-Camacho when Otero-Camacho shot and killed him. Ford affirmed the opposite, citing the autopsy that designated the back of Hargraves-Shird’s right earlobe as the bullet’s point of entry.
She also said the manner in which Hargraves-Shird’s hands were planted — palms up and next to his body — further bolsters her point that he had his back to Otero-Camacho at the time of his death.
As supporters of Hargraves-Shird’s family have done in the past, Ford also pointed to body-worn camera footage to note that Otero-Camacho shot and killed Hargraves-Shirt from 100 feet away, never issuing a verbal warning before doing so.
Hargraves-Shird, a business owner and father of three, died on the afternoon of July 30, several minutes after MPD officers responded to reports about a nearby shooting.
Body-worn camera footage shows Otero-Camacho pursuing a white sudan occupied by Hargraves-Shird and others along Missouri Avenue NW. Once the car crashed at Fort Slocum Park, Hargraves-Shird and others fled the scene.
Otero-Camacho stepped out of his vehicle and behind the driver seat door to shoot Hargraves-Shird as he ran away. Hargraves-Shird died at the scene.
Hargraves-Shird’s death happened not far from where MPD Officer Terence Sutton and Lieutenant Andrew Zabavsky engaged Karon Hytlon-Brown in a deadly vehicular pursuit in the fall of 2020. During the latter part of last year, a jury found Sutton guilty of second-degree murder and obstruction of justice. Zabavsky was similarly found guilty of obstruction of justice.
Ford, who’s representing the family of Deon Kay in a separate case, said that the police-involved deaths of Hargraves-Shird, and others in the District, further shows the need for police training and accountability beyond what the U.S. Attorney’s Office appears willing to provide.
“It’s clear that officers act without training and tactical vision,” Ford said. “Procedure was not followed — no verbal warnings for Kevin Hargraves-Shird — the basic things. The U.S. Attorney’s decision is part of a broken system. The relationship between MPD and U.S. Attorney’s office is close, so therein lies an inherent bias when it comes time to review a case.”