2 years after SWAT raid killed Md. man, lawyer sees ‘multitude of issues’

Duncan Lemp — shown here in a 2019 file photo — was shot and killed on March 12, 2020, while a Montgomery County SWAT team executed a no-knock warrant. (Mercedes Lemp via AP)

It was just over two years ago, on March 12, 2020, that a Montgomery County SWAT team executed a no-knock warrant at the Potomac home where Duncan Lemp was sleeping with his pregnant girlfriend.

In the following moments, they shot and killed Lemp.

Not long after the shooting, Maryland prosecutors ruled out criminal charges against the officer who fired the shots that killed Lemp. But the family’s attorney said that decision — and the decision to raid the home in the first place — were made on false information.

“There’s a multitude of issues in the Lemp case which need to be scrutinized by legislators and others if they care to,” said Rene Sandler, an attorney representing the Lemp family.

First, she said, more attention needs to be paid to making sure anonymous tips are valid before acting.

“The verification process needs to be scrutinized for an anonymous tip to come in, and without further corroboration or verification, should not be relied upon as fact,” Sandler said.

“There’s motives. There’s other issues associated with such information.”

Secondly, she said, police relied on incorrect information in part to obtain the no-knock warrant.

“Officers under oath said that Duncan was not permitted to have a certain weapon because of a certain offense,” Sandler said. “One of the pieces of information they relied upon was just simply false, so there needs to be a better check and balance.“

There are also questions about potential body camera footage during the shooting.

”We have been told the SWAT team opted not to turn on their body cameras. However that is in question, because after Duncan was killed, about 12 seconds of body camera footage was released which indicates that there was in fact body camera available to the officers,” said Sandler.

“Whether or not they actually turned them on during the raid or not is a question that just remains unanswered.”

As for Lemp’s family, she says to this day, no public officials will talk to them about what happened, something she finds abhorrent.

“A 21-year-old citizen of Montgomery County was killed. He was killed by police. That in and of itself should at least have a legislator, a public official, someone at least have a conversation or talk to or seem sympathetic to a family that is continuing to grieve,” Sandler said.

“The family deserved something. (The) county executive refused to respond. County Council members refused to acknowledge this. No one would speak to the family to this day.”

While no officer was charged in the shooting, the case is not closed on Lemp’s death. Sandler said they are still working on their own suit, and have already identified a dozen potential defendants.

Michelle Murillo

Michelle Murillo has been a part of the WTOP family since 2014. She started her career in Central Florida before working in radio in New York City and Philadelphia.

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