Fatal crash during a police chase in DC leaves Md. family saying — where’s the video?

The family of a Hyattsville, Maryland, man who died in a crash while being pursued by police is asking the U.S. Park Police and D.C. police to release whatever video footage of the incident may be available.

James Darien Herndon, 29, died in the crash about 3 a.m. on June 27 in the 2700 block of Benning Road, Northeast near the Anacostia Freeway.

“We want to know what happened. That’s all we ask. Justice. Can we get answers to what took place that night?” Herndon’s wife, Miyauna Herndon, said at a media briefing at the Cochran Law firm in Northwest D.C.

Miyauna Herndon, center, and attorney Brian McDaniel at a July 15, 2022, news conference calling for the release of body-worn camera footage or police dash-cam footage of the fatal pursuit. (WTOP/Kristi King)

At the time of the wreck, Herndon’s three wheel 2022 Can Am Sports motorcycle was being pursued by U.S. Park Police in a chase that was initiated by D.C. police at 1:46 a.m. that night.

D.C. police said Herndon was wanted in connection with a recent homicide at the time of the chase.

“Around 2:48 a.m. a MPD official terminated the pursuit in the area of 6th and Penn Streets, Northeast when it was confirmed that the individual was wanted for questioning in connection to a recent homicide offense,” D.C. police said in a news release at the time

However, U.S. Park Police continued to pursue Herndon when he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed.

Attorney Brian McDaniel of the Cochran Firm said his firm is investigating the incident and is prepared to file civil suits if it is determined officers acted inappropriately.

James Darien Herndon with his children who are now 8 and 5. (Courtesy The Cochran Firm)

“At this stage, we are asking for any and all information that could be provided that would not in any way frustrate any (official) investigation that was being conducted. And we’re asking that the body-worn camera and dashcam footage that’s available also be shared,” McDaniel said.

Miyauan Herndon said her husband “was a loving man, loving father. He was a good family man, loved his family loved his friends; outgoing, funny, smart man. I just want justice for my husband.”

McDaniel said efforts to devalue Herndon’s life have involved suggestions that he was found with a gun and narcotics.

“But even if this were to be the case, law enforcement would not have discovered this information until after the chase had culminated in James’s death, and would not have provided cover or justification for the inexcusable decision of the officers to intentionally and purposefully violate their general orders by conducting this pursuit over an hour before the crash causing James’s death,” McDaniel said.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is reviewing the matter, as we do all officer-involved fatalities,” said Bill Miller, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C. in an email. “We have no further comment at this time.”

U.S. Park Police said in a statement that their officers responded to D.C. police’s request for help with the pursuit.

“Any time a pursuit results in a loss of life it is regrettable and we take that very seriously. In accordance with USPP policy, the incident is under investigation by our internal affairs office,” a Park Police spokesperson said.

A news release on Herndon’s crash released when it happened asked that anyone with knowledge of the incident call police at 202-727-9099 or text information to the Department’s TEXT TIP LINE at 50411.

WTOP has reached out to MPD and is awaiting response.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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