Body camera shows what happened after police fatally shoot suspect in deadly Md. carjacking spree

Editor’s Note: The video may contain scenes upsetting to some viewers. 

Police body camera footage shows the moments after New Carrolton, Maryland, police shot and killed the man suspected in a string of shootings and carjackings in D.C. and Maryland that killed two people.

Artell Cunningham, 28, of Suitland, died after being shot Jan. 30 in a parking lot on Annapolis Road.

The footage was released by the Independent Investigations Division of the Maryland Office of the Attorney General, which continues to investigate the shooting. The officers had been identified earlier as Sgt. Byron Purnell and Cpl. Carlos Batenga.

According to the attorney general’s investigation, the officers were on patrol at approximately 4:35 a.m. when they saw a disabled, unoccupied SUV in the roadway, which had been reported as carjacked in Prince George’s County.

Purnell and Batenga searched the area for occupants of the SUV, but didn’t find anyone.

“A short time later, the officers were standing outside a patrol in a nearby parking lot when they were approached by a man with two firearms. The officers both discharged their weapons, striking the man,” according to the narrative posted on the just-released footage.

However, the shooting of Cunningham wasn’t captured in the footage.

“The officers activated their body-worn cameras after firing their weapons,” according to the Attorney General’s office.

What the body-worn camera footage shows

The footage begins with both Batenga and Purnell with their service weapons trained on Cunningham, who was already lying in the parking lot.

The officers report shots fired, and that there were two guns present.

As Cunningham raised his arm and leg, both officers ordered, “Don’t touch the gun, don’t touch the gun.” Cunningham complied, as the guns rested near his left shoulder on the pavement.

Batenga then approached Cunningham and kicked the two guns away.

At least four officers — apparently all from New Carrolton police — pointed their weapons at Cunningham until officers from “an assisting police department” arrived and began treating Cunningham.

“Flip him over, put him in handcuffs, then we’ve got to work him” with CPR, said an unknown arriving officer. Other officers turned Cunningham over to be handcuffed behind his back, then quickly returned him to lying on his back. The lead officer directed others to “check his pulse,” as he put on rubber gloves.

In the background, another officer called for the fire and emergency department’s assistance on the police radio.

An officer who was checking for Cunningham’s pulse reported, “he’s barely breathing.”

The lead officer urged, “Come on man,” as he began chest compressions on Cunningham. Another officer who witnessed the CPR, responded “he’s still breathing, he’s still breathing.”

As officers got ready to cut off Cunningham’s clothes, the video ended.

Cunningham was the suspect in a string of shootings and carjackings that stretched from D.C. into Prince George’s County, Maryland in January, which killed 35-year-old Alberto Vasquez Jr. and 56-year-old Mike Gill, a former D.C. Board of Elections member and a member of former President Donald Trump’s administration.

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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