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It’s been two weeks since 10-year-old Makiyah Wilson was killed while getting ice cream outside of her home in the Clay Terrace Apartments in Northeast, and the Metropolitan Police Department have yet to make any arrests.
In a wide-ranging press conference addressing recent public safety concerns, MPD Chief Peter Newsham said that detectives working the case “have made a significant amount of progress.” But MPD is still seeking the help of residents who may have information about the five masked gunman who the chief says says “indiscriminately fired over 70 rounds in multiple directions” in the complex’s courtyard. Newsham and Mayor Muriel Bowser announced they they’ve teamed up with the FBI on the investigation and have increased the reward for anyone who provides information leading to an arrest from $25,000 to $45,000.
The homicide rate in D.C. is nearly twice as high this year as it was at this time last year. Though overall violent crime in the District is down seven percent, Newsham said he’s “very concerned” about the homicide spike. Earlier this summer, Newsham increased the staffing levels where violent crime is the worst—mostly in Wards 7 and 8—by 25 percent. But not all the residents in those communities are happy about the increased police presence.
A pair of incidents between residents and police officers that occurred in front of Nook’s Barbershop in Deanwood last month has become a point of contention for the MPD. Last week, the ACLU of D.C., joined by nearly 20 other local activists organizations, sent Bowser a letter urging her to release the body-worn camera footage of both incidents. Bowser would not explicitly say if she would release the body cam footage at today’s press conference.
“Certainly, we have a protocol—especially if it involves an injury or fatality—that we follow with regard to body-worn camera use, and I have the ability, especially in those cases, to override a FOIA instance. And we haven’t come to that determination yet,” she told reporters. Bowser did say that “any subject” who was involved in the incidents and is on the body cam footage can go to the Sixth District police station to request a viewing of the footage, but she and Newsham both said that no one has made that request.
When asked if she had responded directly to the ACLU of D.C.’s letter, Bowser said she “[didn’t] know about it specifically, but [will] take a look at it.”
The police department has also faced scrutiny over a trio of police-involved deaths and released little information about the circumstances. Twenty four-year-old D’Quan Young was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer on May 9; 22-year-old Marquis Alston was shot and killed in a confrontation with officers on patrol on June 12; and 22-year-old Jeffrey Price was killed on May 4 after the dirt bike he was riding collided with a police cruiser.
The same activist organizations who sent Bowser the letter last week have also urged Newsham and the MPD to release body cam footage—or even basic details, including the names of the officers involved. When asked if the release of body cam footage and additional details of the three deaths would be released, Newsham said that because one of the incidents involved an off-duty officer and another was a traffic fatality, only one of those cases—Alston’s death on June 12—was captured by body cams.
Bowser, who has the authority to publicly release any body cam footage, offered more vague non-answers about whether the footage or more information about the three police-involved fatalities would be released. “It’s always our intention to make sure we are able to protect the prosecution of people responsible in those cases,” she said. “That’s why it’s always a case-by-case review, that I have the ultimate decision but in consultation with the U.S. Attorney and in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General and with the police chief.”