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Press Release

U.S. Attorney's Office Concludes Investigation Into Fatal Shooting of Robbery Suspect in Southeast Washington

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia
No Charges to Be Filed Against Police Officers in Dec. 24, 2014 Shooting

            WASHINGTON - The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia announced today that it has completed its review of the Metropolitan Police Department officers who were involved in the fatal shooting of Gregory Gray on Dec. 24, 2014, in a courtyard in Southeast 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 officers involved in the fatal shooting of Mr. Gray.

            The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and MPD conducted a comprehensive review of the incident, which included interviews of over a dozen 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 chain of events began at about 3 p.m. on Dec. 24, 2014, when MPD received reports that two men had been robbed at the corner of 30th Street and Alabama Avenue SE.  The witnesses who reported the robbery provided a detailed description of the robber.

            MPD officers quickly responded to the area and spotted Mr. Gray, 33, who was walking in the 2700 block of Naylor Road SE, approximately three blocks from where the robbery occurred. Mr. Gray, who matched the description of the robbery suspect, began running when police asked him to stop. Four MPD officers got out of their vehicles and pursued Mr. Gray on foot. Mr. Gray ran between two apartment buildings and into a courtyard area behind residences in the 2800 block of Naylor Road SE. He did not heed numerous commands to stop and wound up being positioned between the officers and an iron fence that ran the length of the courtyard. At this point, the evidence shows, Mr. Gray pulled a handgun and pointed it in the direction of the officers. Seeing the weapon, all four officers fired their weapons, fatally wounding Mr. Gray.

            A black firearm was recovered near Mr. Gray. An MPD technician who assisted with collecting evidence from the scene of the shooting was able to retrieve DNA from the firearm.  A subsequent analysis of the DNA revealed, to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, that Mr. Gray was a major contributor to the DNA mixture recovered from the firearm.

            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.

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.

Updated April 19, 2016

Press Release Number: 16-066