U.S. Attorney's Office Concludes Investigation Into Fatal Shooting in Northeast Washington
No Charges to Be Filed Against Police Officer in November 19, 2015 Shooting
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia announced today that it has completed its review of the fatal shooting of Darick Napper by a Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer on Nov. 19, 2015, at an intersection in Northeast Washington. After a careful review of all of the evidence, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has concluded that there is insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal civil rights or District of Columbia charges against the officer involved in the fatal shooting of Mr. Napper.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and MPD conducted a comprehensive review of the incident, which included interviews of law enforcement and civilian witnesses and assessing photographs, DNA, diagrams, physical evidence, recorded radio communications, the autopsy report, and other evidence.
According to the evidence, the shooting took place on Nov. 19, 2015, at approximately 1:52 p.m., at the intersection of Clay Terrace and 53rd Street NE. Mr. Napper walked up a hill next to a neighborhood community center, where he encountered the MPD officer, who was sitting in her cruiser finishing some paperwork before the end of her shift. Mr. Napper leaned down and put his face near the officer’s partially opened driver’s side window. He had a large knife raised up and visible in his hand. The officer immediately reported to the dispatcher that she had a “man standing in front of me with a knife” and told the dispatcher to send back-up.
The officer then slowly reversed her cruiser to put space between her and Mr. Napper, and then got out and stood behind her open door. At that point, the officer did not have her weapon out. She repeatedly ordered Mr. Napper to “drop the knife, drop the knife,” which was heard over the radio by responding officers. Mr. Napper ignored her commands and started banging on the hood of the cruiser, damaging the vehicle. The officer took out her weapon and again told Mr. Napper to drop the knife. He replied, “I will kill you out here,” and moved quickly towards her. The officer fired one shot that fatally wounded Mr. Napper in the upper left chest area.
In addition to the knife, which had a nine-inch blade, at the time of the confrontation with the officer, Mr. Napper was wearing a camouflaged “brass knuckles knife” – which is brass knuckles with serrated knives over each knuckle – in his left hand.
Moments before the shooting, multiple civilian witnesses reported seeing Mr. Napper threatening several civilians outside the community center. Mr. Napper had both the “brass knuckles knife” and the large knife, described by one witness as a “butcher knife.” As one of the civilian witnesses called 911, Mr. Napper approached the MPD officer’s vehicle.
After a careful, thorough, and independent review of the evidence, federal prosecutors have found insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer used excessive force under the circumstances.
Use-of-force investigations generally
The U.S. Attorney’s Office reviews all police-involved fatalities to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to conclude that any officers violated either federal criminal civil rights laws or District of Columbia law. To prove such violations, prosecutors must typically be able to prove that the involved officers willfully used more force than was reasonably necessary. Proving “willfulness” is a heavy burden. Prosecutors must not only prove that the force used was excessive, but must also prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the officer acted with the deliberate and specific intent to do something the law forbids. A conclusion that “there is insufficient evidence” is not meant to suggest anything further about what evidence, if any, exists.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office remains committed to investigating allegations of excessive force by law enforcement officers and will continue to devote the resources necessary to ensure that all allegations of serious civil rights violations are fully and completely investigated. The Metropolitan Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division investigates all police-involved fatalities in the District of Columbia.