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Maybe you are sick of hearing about the DeOnte Rawlings case. The 14-year-old was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer on September 17, 2007. That’s a long time ago. By now, the off-duty cops have been cleared by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the D.C. Police Department. Law enforcement contends that Rawlings had fired on the officers—-James Haskel and Anthony Clay—-first and was riding Haskel’s stolen minibike. Officer Haskel only returned fire in self defense.
So what keeps this case from going away? We keep learning new problems with the police work on this case, and new holes in the narrative. Today we published a very long piece on the Rawlings shooting that’s simply taken from the depositions of those involved. In it you may find out things you didn’t already know. On City Desk, I will be presenting a series of documents and deposition testimony highlighting more screwups, questionable memos, and just sad little details. There’s a reason why this case won’t go away.
Kicking off this series, we have an exchange between Rawlings’ family’s attorney Gregory Lattimer and Sgt. Ralph Wax during Wax’s deposition taken last fall. Wax headed up the investigation into the shooting. Here he details what Rawlings had on him when he died and the confusion over exactly what color shirt he was wearing at the time. The shirt color would turn out to be crucial since the cops could only recall what Rawlings was wearing at the time. They couldn’t identify any of his physical features. Wax also notes that no gunshot residue was found on Rawlings’ clothing.
Lattimer: There was one polo shirt, short sleeve, white in color, correct?
Wax: That’s what it says, yeah.
Lattimer: Pair of boxer shorts, right?
Lattimer: Pair of athletic socks, right?
Lattimer: One pair of tennis shoes?
Lattimer: One pair of pants, tan in color, [Old] Navy, right?
Lattimer: Then U.S. currency, paper money, $8, one $5 bill and three $1 bills?
Wax: Yes, sir.
Lattimer: Anything unusual about any of this?
Wax: I think, if I’m not mistaken, the shirt was actually light blue, not white, but everything else is consistent.
Lattimer: Light blue? Why do you say that?
Wax: Just remember, when I saw the shirt, I thought it was light blue.
Lattimer: So you think the hospital got it wrong?
Wax: Hospital didn’t write this out.
Lattimer: MPD got it wrong?
Wax: Might have been the technician….
Lattimer: All of that stuff was tested for powder residue, right?
Lattimer: What were the findings?
Wax: There was none.