Since Kevin Hargraves-Shird’s death, family, friends, community members and activists representing Black-led community defense hub Harriet’s Wildest Dreams have coalesced around movement to hold MPD accountable for his death and that of Lazarus David Wilson, a man shot and killed by MPD Cmdr. Jason Bagshaw at the Wharf last month. (Sam P.K. Collins/The Washington Informer)
Since Kevin Hargraves-Shird’s death, family, friends, community members and activists representing Black-led community defense hub Harriet’s Wildest Dreams have coalesced around movement to hold MPD accountable for his death and that of Lazarus David Wilson, a man shot and killed by MPD Cmdr. Jason Bagshaw at the Wharf last month. (Sam P.K. Collins/The Washington Informer)

In the days following the death of Kevin Hargraves-Shird, shot and killed by a D.C. police officer, details about the events leading up to his demise continue to surface, often differing from initial accounts provided by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).  

Kevin Hargraves-Shird

As MPD conducts an internal investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia pursues a similar course of action, Hargraves-Shird’s family remains set on challenging MPD’s narrative about his alleged involvement in the double shooting on Longfellow Street and Georgia Avenue in Northwest.  

They have expressed qualms about MPD’s insistence that Hargraves-Shird had a gun when MPD Sergeant Ronaldo Otero Camacho shot him once in the back of his head. They have also questioned the credibility of body cam footage released to the public.  

“There are independent investigations and other videos that show that there’s no gun,” said Serena Hargraves, Kevin Hargraves-Shird’s sister. 

“If there was a gun, they would kneel on top of it,” she said. “We’re fighting the police and the media. It’s not OK. The police shot Kevin in the back of his head. There was no threat and no engagement. The officer was a sharpshooter. He had [to have been] in the military.” 

Body Cam Footage, an Investigation and Multiple Responses 

On the afternoon of July 30, MPD responded to reports of shots fired near the corner of Longfellow Street and Georgia Avenue in Northwest. During that incident, two teenagers suffered non-fatal gunshot wounds and witnesses mentioned seeing two dark sedans leaving the scene. 

MPD Chief Robert J. Contee III said dispatchers also received a phone call about a Black man with a white shirt and dark jeans stashing weapons underneath a trash can in a nearby alley. When police arrived at the alley, the person in question allegedly hopped into a white sedan which sped northbound on Missouri Avenue in Northwest. 

MPD officials said they recovered three weapons from underneath the trash can. They also reported that three other men, including one matching the description given by the caller, ran from the white sedan once it crashed on the 200 block of Madison Street in Northwest during Camacho’s pursuit of the vehicle. 

The portion of Camacho’s body cam footage released on Friday, Aug. 5 shows the pursuit and the final moments of Hargraves-Shird’s life. Once Camacho reached Fort Slocum Park, where children had been frolicking, he stepped out of his car with service weapon in hand. 

Seconds later, he yelled “gun” before letting off one shot from 35 yards as Hargraves-Shird ran away. 

Immediately after shooting Hargraves-Shird, Camacho ran over to his lifeless body. Another officer handcuffed Hargraves-Shird and other personnel later performed CPR. The body cam footage shows a black object next to Hargraves-Shird that police described as a gun. 

Camacho has since been placed on administrative leave. 

Camacho’s keys and the frame of the driver’s side of the MPD patrol vehicle blocked the view of his body cam throughout most of the video released to the public. Family members have pointed out discrepancies between what the video showed and earlier MPD officials’ insistence that Camacho told Hargraves to put down his weapon before firing at him. 

Hours after MPD released body cam footage, D.C. Councilmember Janeese Lewis George said Hargraves-Shird’s death could’ve been prevented and lamented that MPD would shoot him in a public park where families congregated for an outing. She, too, demanded a transparent investigation and the release of body cam footage from other officers on the scene. 

Since Hargraves-Shird’s death, family, friends, community members and activists representing Black-led community defense hub Harriet’s Wildest Dreams have coalesced around efforts to hold MPD accountable for his death and that of Lazarus David Wilson, a man shot and killed by MPD Commander Jason Bagshaw at the Wharf last month. 

On Friday, they led a protest in front of the John A. Wilson Building. Their demands of MPD include the release of information about Camacho’s disciplinary records,  the 911 call that led to the pursuit of Hargraves-Shird and footage from body cameras worn by other officers on the scene. 

On Sunday, Contee said it remains unlikely that MPD will release the 911 call due, in part, to concerns about exposing witnesses. 

Broader Community Issues at Play 

Brightwood Park and Manor Park, located near the Kennedy Street corridor in Northwest, count among areas of interest among MPD officials and violence interrupters. Over the last few years, amid several incidents of gun violence, conversations about police-community relations have been tenuous among community members concerned for their safety. 

For ANC Commissioner Tiffani Johnson, Hargraves-Shird’s death and the events leading up to it raise red flags about not only how to curb violent crime and keep residents safe but how to ensure that police officers take every precaution when pursuing suspects. 

On the afternoon of June 30, Johnson, a mother and caretaker, locked her doors upon learning about the police-involved shooting in Fort Slocum Park. Over the next few days, she spoke with the National Park Service, Lewis George and other ANC commissioners to determine how to help residents, young and old, impacted by the trauma of seeing Hargraves-Shird killed.   

Developing plans include a community healing day where residents can receive mental health resources. In the interim, Johnson continues to question whether more could have been done to prevent Hargraves-Shird’s death. 

“Why was there a need to draw your gun while driving your vehicle?,” asked Johnson, commissioner of Single Member District 4B06. 

“If the individual suspect was running away from the police car, why was there a need for evasive measures? Could this have been deescalated? I know some people say, ‘shoot to kill’ but that’s not the methodology we need,” Johnson said.

Sam P.K. Collins

Sam P.K. Collins has more than a decade of experience as a journalist, columnist and organizer. Sam, a millennial and former editor of WI Bridge, covers education, police brutality, politics, and other...

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