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Review into police shooting death of Marcus-David Peters shooting released

Posted at 6:26 PM, Nov 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-06 18:42:20-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin found the fatal Richmond Police shooting of Marcus-David Peters to be "a reasonable response" to the situation that played out along Interstate 95 on August 31, 2018.

She released a 10-page document Friday afternoon that detailed the reasoning behind her conclusion following a review of the police officer's use of force.

"Based upon my review of the Analysis and of the evidence listed therein, the additional evidence requested and discussed above, the applicable law, and the totality of the circumstances surrounding this devastating event, the officer’s ultimate decision to use lethal force was a reasonable response to the imminent danger presented to himself and the public by Mr. Peters’ continued violent behavior due to his mental deterioration," she wrote in the conclusion of her report.

The report detailed a series of events that led to Peters' fatal encounter with Richmond Police Officer Michael Nyantaki.

That series of events included:

  • Smoking of marijuana after work (4:30 p.m.)
  • Arriving at the Jefferson Hotel - his second job - in Richmond (5:22 p.m.) where a "tense exchanged" occurred with a co-worker
  • Leaving the hotel unclothed

Peters, according to the report got into his car (a Grand Marquis) around 5:30 p.m. and drove away from the hotel, crashing into other vehicles along Belvidere Street.

A Richmond Police officer witnessed those crashes.

"The officer activated his lights in pursuit to make a felony traffic stop for hit and run, and possibly other charges. The suspect vehicle continued northbound driving recklessly and swerving around other vehicles. It exited N. Belvidere Street onto the on-ramp of Interstate 95 North, struck two additional vehicles, veered off of the roadway and came to rest in a tree lined area in the center of the ramp," the report continued.

Officer Nyantaki approached the car and ordered Peters to stay inside the vehicle, the report read citing the officer's body-worn camera.

"Mr. Peters can be seen and heard yelling, flailing his arms around, and moving his head fervently from side to side. He was so active that his movements caused the vehicle to rock from side to side. In his interview, the officer explained that he feared that Mr. Peters might be reaching for a weapon because he could see him reaching to the passenger side of the cabin," the report continued.

After calling the Department of Emergency Communications (DEC) to report Peters "appeared to be mentally unstable," Officer Nyantaki moved away from the car, the report read.

Peters then got out of the car.

"He did not acknowledge the officer’s presence; instead, he ran completely nude toward Interstate 95 during heavy rush hour traffic. He entered the right travel lane and was struck by a car," the report continued. "After being struck by the car, Mr. Peters got up immediately but then laid back down in the travel lane for several seconds where he repeatedly rolled over in a tumbling motion. He then moved to the shoulder of the roadway, where he again laid on the ground moving his arms and legs as if making snow angels."

After calling for additional units to arrive, Officer Nyantaki drew his Taser and moved closer to Peters, the report indicated.

"Mr. Peters stood and faced the officer who was standing some feet away. He appeared agitated and yelled at the officer to 'Back the f*** up.' The officer backed up as Mr. Peters advanced," the report continued. "[The officer] explained to us that he was attempting to maintain distance between them and to stall in hopes that other units would arrive. Mr. Peters then yelled 'Put that Taser down or I’ll kill you.' The officer warned that he would deploy the Taser, but Mr. Peters continued to advance on the officer while yelling, 'Die motherf***er.' The officer deployed his Taser striking Peters with one prong, but it had no effect."

The two then began to fight for control over Officer Nyantaki's gun, the report indicated.

"The officer further explained that he was wary of engaging hand to hand with Mr. Peters because of his erratic behavior, his unresponsiveness to pain, and fear that Mr. Peters might land on top of him," the report read. "Using his left arm to repel him, the officer explained that he 'bladed' his body to shield his firearm from Mr. Peters. As Mr. Peters continued to charge in apparent attack, the officer fired at least twice. It is unclear whether Mr. Peters actually made contact before the shots were fired; although, in the footage he was certainly well within arm’s length."

Peters was shot three times. He died at the hospital.

Following his death, Peters' family has been vocal that their loved one needed help that day, not police intervention.

They championed the Marcus Alert, recently signed into Virginia law.

The law establishes a statewide mental health awareness response and community understanding services (Marcus) alert system.

"This measure promotes a behavioral health response to individuals in crisis, including by limiting the role of law enforcement," the governor's office wrote following the bill's signing into law.