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The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia will not bring charges against Metropolitan Police Department Sergeant Reinaldo Otero-Camancho related to the shooting death of Kevin Hargraves-Shird in July of 2022. A news release from the USAO says “there is insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal civil rights or District of Columbia charges” against Otero-Camancho.
The release only provides a short description of the incident and a small potential hint as to prosecutors’ thinking as they decided to not bring charges. According to the USAO, Hargraves-Shird was hit by a single shot in his right ear. Based on the entry wound and Otero-Camancho’s position in relation to the 31-year-old man, prosecutors concluded that Hargraves-Shird “was likely facing Sergeant Otero[-Camancho] at the time he fired his weapon.”
The news release does not say whether Otero-Camancho saw Hargraves-Shird turn toward him before the sergeant fired. Rather, prosecutors say Hargraves-Shird fled from a vehicle as Otero-Camancho exited his police cruiser. The sergeant yelled “Gun! Gun! Gun!” and fired a single shot.
Body camera footage released by the Metropolitan Police Department generally supports that description. The footage shows Otero-Camancho arrive at Fort Slocum Park with his weapon drawn, quickly get out of his car, and fire a single shot. The camera does not capture Hargraves-Shird’s movements.
The fatal incident started with officers responding to a shooting in the 900 block of Longfellow Street NW, the news release says, in which two children were shot. Police believed a man involved in the shooting got into a white car and fled. After a brief police chase, the vehicle crashed into a curb on the edge of Fort Slocum Park, where a going-away party, with a bouncy house full of young kids, was taking place.
Four men, including Hargraves-Shird, fled from the car. But, prosecutors say, Hargraves-Shird “appeared to return to the vehicle and rummage through it looking for something. When Sergeant Otero arrived, Mr. Shird immediately fled, as well.” The USAO says that investigators found a firearm with Hargraves-Shird’s DNA on it a few feet from where he fell.
It is unclear whether MPD has completed its review of the fatal use of force and whether Otero-Camancho will face any administrative consequences. MPD has started to publish summaries of cases presented to the Use of Force Review Board, but the case involving Hargraves-Shird’s death has not been posted.
The Office of the D.C. Auditor, as part of its review of MPD’s uses of fatal force with the Bromwich Group, also recommended that the USAO issue detailed declination letters when they decide not to file charges against officers. U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves said in response to the auditor that his office might, in “extraordinary cases,” consider issuing a declination report. He cited concerns over how such a report could run afoul of a court rule on disclosure of grand jury proceedings and said “issuing such reports would be inconsistent with how we generally handle declinations.”
“For a variety of reasons,” Graves told the D.C. Auditor, “we do not think it defensible to have a practice of issuing declination reports for officer-involved fatalities.”
Graves believes that the “current practice strikes the right balance between giving the community some visibility into our decision-making while guarding against the considerations that weigh against disclosure.”