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Press Release

U.S. Attorney's Office Concludes Investigation Into Fatal Shooting in Northeast Washington

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia
No Charges to Be Filed Against Metropolitan Police Department Officers

            WASHINGTON - The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia announced today that it has completed its review of the June 27, 2016, fatal shooting of Sherman Evans, Sr., by Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers in the 100 block of Varnum Street NE. 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 officers involved in the fatal shooting of Mr. Evans.


            The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Metropolitan Police Department conducted a comprehensive review of the incident. This included interviews of civilian and law enforcement witnesses, as well as a review of autopsy and toxicology reports; Mobile Crime and District of Columbia Department of Forensic Sciences reports, photographs, and diagrams; body worn camera footage; audio transmissions; and physical evidence collected on the scene, including a BB pistol that is virtually identical in appearance to a real firearm.


            According to the evidence, on June 27, 2016, at approximately 10:22 p.m., Mr. Evans called 911 and told the dispatcher, “yes, miss, look, uh, uh, it's a man out in front of the building brandishing a gun” in front of 109 Varnum Street NE. When the dispatcher asked for additional information, Mr. Evans, whose cellphone was used to make the 911 call and whose voice on the 911 call was authenticated, repeated, “It’s a man out in front of the building brandishing a gun.” Mr. Evans then disconnected the call.


            Several officers responded to the 100 block of Varnum Street NE, for the report of a “man with a gun.” When they arrived, Mr. Evans was standing outside on the sidewalk with a weapon, later identified as a Marksman Repeater .177 caliber BB gun, in his right hand. As shown on the body worn camera footage and as reported by witnesses, although Mr. Evans initially had the barrel of his weapon pointed towards the ground, on several occasions, he raised the barrel up, pointing the weapon in the officers’ direction. The officers did not initially fire their weapons. Rather, over a period of several minutes, they repeatedly ordered Mr. Evans to “drop the gun,” and “come on, sir, put it down. We’ll talk, we’ll talk.” Mr. Evans, however, did not comply. After several minutes, Mr. Evans again pointed his weapon at the officers, but this time he started to move in the officers’ direction. At that point, the officers started shooting.


            An autopsy revealed that Mr. Evans, 63, was shot two to three times, including once in the right forearm, once in the right buttock, and once in the chest, which was possibly a reentry wound from the gunshot wound to the right forearm. The Toxicology Report further indicated the presence of narcotics in Mr. Evans’s blood and urine.


            After a careful, thorough, and independent review of the evidence, federal prosecutors have found insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers used excessive force under the circumstances. To the contrary, there is sufficient evidence to corroborate the officers’ account that they were acting in self-defense at the time of the shooting.


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 investigated fully and completely. The Metropolitan Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division investigates all police-involved fatalities in the District of Columbia.

Updated March 28, 2017

Press Release Number: 17-066