Youth, 14, Is Fatally Shot in Clash With D.C. Police

By Elissa Silverman and Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A 14-year-old youth was shot and killed in Southeast Washington last night in a confrontation with D.C. police officers, a police official said.

The confrontation occurred about 7:30 p.m. in the 600 block of Atlantic Street. The two off-duty officers, who were in plain clothes, had gone there to pursue a burglary investigation, Assistant Police Chief Willie Dandridge said.

The slain youth was not identified immediately. He had been shot in the head, said Alan Etter, a spokesman for D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services.

The incident brought top city officials, including D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, to the scene. It also provoked expressions of scorn and anger at police from taunting youths who gathered nearby.

As of late last night, no firm and detailed account of what had happened could be obtained. Lanier said an officer and another person had fired shots. But she declined to give a sequence of events, to identify the other person or to say conclusively whether the officer's shots had fatally wounded the youth.

In the first account provided by police, Dandridge had said the youth was with another person and had opened fire on the officers. Then, Dandridge said, "fearing for his life," an officer fired his gun.

Lanier also said the youth had been shot during an exchange of gunfire.

But she confirmed little else of what Dandridge had said. Speaking to reporters about an hour after Dandridge did, she made statements and responses to questions that were far less specific, and she emphasized that events were still being sorted out.

Although an exchange of shots had occurred, she said, "we don't know when, where or how that occurred."

During the incident, she said, someone other than a police officer fired a weapon. But who it was not clear.

"Right now," she said late last night, "I just don't know who fired that other weapon.''

Regardless of what might have caused the gunfire, Fenty (D) said at the scene that he wished to express his sympathy to the slain youth's relatives.

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