Protests after DC officer shoots and kills 1 in Southeast

Protesters took to the streets in D.C. Thursday morning, calling for Mayor Muriel Bowser to fire D.C.’s police chief after police shot and killed a teen Wednesday afternoon in Southeast.

The fatal shooting of 18-year-old Deon Kay prompted a protest over about 100 people outside a D.C. police station Wednesday night, and another small protest popped up Thursday morning.

D.C. police said they plan to release body camera footage of the shooting Thursday.

In Thursday’s protest, TV footage showed protesters with a sign calling for D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to fire Police Chief Peter Newsham.

About a dozen protesters gathered outside the mayor’s house chanting “no justice, no peace” and spoke out against the police department’s leadership with officers standing nearby.

“We’ve seen repeatedly under the — in my opinion — lack of leadership of Peter Newsham that Black men are considered a threat, and only a threat, and merit death if they’re considered high enough of a threat,” said Aura Ange’lica with the D.C. chapter of the Sunrise Movement.

Ange’lica added firing Newsham is “an easy first step” in holding police accountable for the shootings, which she said cannot be justified in any way.

“The narrative saying that they’re saying he had a gun or that there were arms produced at the scene — that does not justify someone’s life being taken away,” she said. “I believe in de-escalation. I believe in community-led programs of de-escalation. I do not believe that the response to threats ought to always be gun-first.”

Another protester said Bowser’s support of the Black Lives Matter movement has been superficial and “literally used it as a backdrop for her DNC speech.”

“The mayor essentially has used this movement to create all this national attention for herself, create this national good press,” said Sean H. “She painted Black Lives Matter on to our streets and yet when it came to the actual demands that the organization Black Lives Matter and other abolitionist organizations in the city are calling for — like defunding the police, like firing Chief Newsham — when it comes to any of those real demands … she curves them. She says, ‘no thanks.’ She spits in their faces by actively proposing budget increases for the police.”

What police say happened

Around 4 p.m., police responded on Orange Street Southeast, just east of Joint Base Anacostia, to investigate a man with a gun.

Officers found people in and around a vehicle and upon seeing police, two people fled on foot. Police said one of them — identified by as Kay — pulled out a gun while being pursued on foot, and an officer fired his gun and wounded him.

Kay was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The other person was not apprehended.

Police also arrested Marcyelle Smith, 19, of Southeast, on a charge of carrying a pistol without a license; and Deonte Brown, 18, of Southeast, on a charge of having no permit.

Earlier during a news conference, Police Chief Peter Newsham would not comment on why the officer shot while the suspect was running away, saying it would be “improper” to speculate on what prompted the officers to open fire and that an investigation into the shooting would be conducted.

“We believe the suspect had a gun at the time,” Newsham told reporters. Members of the community on the scene disputed that contention, The Associated Press reported.

Police said two guns were recovered from the scene of the shooting.

As part of the Emergency Police and Justice Reform Measure, which the D.C. Council unanimously passed in June 2020, D.C. police are required to release the body-worn camera footage from the incident within 72 hours of the shooting.

A source told WTOP news partner NBC Washington that D.C. police have reviewed body camera footage from the incident. Police announced the footage will be released Thursday.

Anyone with information on what happened should call D.C. police at 202-727-9099.

The shooting of Kay came hours after an apparently unrelated incident in which Newsham said several officers were potentially shot at on South Capitol Street Southwest around 1:30 p.m.

He said that no officers or police cruisers were struck by bullets, and officers couldn’t be completely sure that they were the intended targets of the shooting.

Police are looking for a gold-colored Mercedes with Virginia plates.

WTOP’s Rob Woodfork, John Domen, Colleen Kelleher, Abigail Constantino and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Rob Woodfork

Rob Woodfork is a versatile broadcaster with a broad range of experience. He can be heard in in WTOP's traffic center and on the Sports Desk and his byline is on as a web writer/editor and sports columnist.

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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