The family of a man who was shot and killed by an off-duty D.C. police commander filed a $25 million lawsuit this week against the city, claiming the officer involved used excessive force and did not properly identify himself as an officer before pulling the trigger.
According to Andrew Clarke, the attorney representing the family of Lazarus Wilson, the officer “shot first and asked questions later.”
Wilson was 23 years old when he was shot and killed by Cmdr. Jason Bagshaw at the Wharf in July of 2022.
In the lawsuit, Clarke alleged that Wilson pulled out a gun in response to Wilson’s friend being held at gunpoint in a robbery attempt.
That’s when Bagshaw, who had been nearby at a restaurant, saw what was happening, rushed over to the scene and shot Wilson, according to the lawsuit.
“Mr. Bagshaw was not in uniform, didn’t announce himself and he just shot Mr. Wilson,” Clarke said. “Had Mr. Bagshaw actually took some time to announce himself and assess the situation, he would have realized that Mr. Wilson was actually the one in need of assistance.”
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in D.C. federal court.
The city will have a chance to respond in the coming weeks, and a trial would ultimately be set assuming the case proceeds.
“Mr. Wilson was the one that was trying to protect someone else,” Clarke said.
In response to WTOP’s request for comment, the D.C. police department said it “does not comment on pending litigation.”
In February, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C. announced Bagshaw would not face charges in the case.
“After a careful, thorough, and independent review of the evidence, federal prosecutors found insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Commander Bagshaw used excessive force under the circumstances,” the attorney’s office said.
According to the investigation, Wilson had a gun pointed at another person when Bagshaw pulled out his service weapon and stated, “MPD, drop the gun!”
Prosecutors said when Wilson didn’t comply, Bagshaw opened fire, hitting Wilson.
After the shooting, police released body camera footage from two officers who responded to the scene.