Ernest Peterson talked quietly to the young men who had gathered reluctantly around a TV reporter at the corner of Fifth and O streets NW, telling them it was important for people to know what had happened Tuesday morning when a friend of theirs was killed by a D.C. police officer.

"Go ahead," he said, prodding one teen-ager to talk to the reporter. "You have nothing to hide."

Then he stood back as the young men vied with each other for the chance to tell their stories although most refused to have their faces on camera.

Some said 19-year-old Tyrone Hawkins was shot "for no reason at all," while others complained of police harassment on several nights during the summer. Yes, they said, there were drug sales in the neighborhood, but that did not concern them.

"They are always trying to get somebody with drugs but if they don't {find drugs} they take it out on us," said one teen-ager who gave his name as Jeff, who said police often hit them with batons and verbally abused them.

Peterson, 41, a resident of Shaw for the past 10 years, employs 22 young men from the neighborhood in his messenger service. "They are afraid of police," he said of the youths. "We see them as protectors but the kids do not."

His neighborhood is neither well-to-do nor poor. Some of the faded row houses have been renovated by newcomers, but most of the houses and the recently built cooperative apartments are occupied by longtime residents, many of whom grew up in Shaw.

After the camera crew left, the neighborhood settled down to more typical pursuits -- elderly men and women watching grandchildren at play, young professionals arriving home from work carrying bags of groceries and teen-agers hanging around the corner drinking soda or shooting dice in a nearby playground. The neighborhood mirrors many other downtown communities where some drug trafficking appears to be tolerated as long as it isn't highly visible and doesn't lead to violence.

The shooting death of Hawkins has jarred this neighborhood which had seemingly become complacent about small-scale drug trafficking. Residents, after a long battle, successfully ousted an entrenched and highly visible cocaine market several years ago.

Now there was a new problem. This time it was youths who hid in a dark driveway leading to the apartment complex or hung out on the playground where they sold PCP and cocaine.

And now one of the neighborhood teen-agers was dead.

Peterson said he thinks Hawkins' death will unite the community.

"We will be successful again," he said. "This tragedy will force a community dialogue and the kids will learn the police aren't playing. This situation will force each side to look at the other. Nobody is all good or all bad."

Wednesday night, the young dealers were again selling drugs from the driveway in the 1300 block of Fifth Street NW. It was the same place where police confronted about 20 young people early Tuesday morning after receiving a call that someone had been firing a gun into the air.

Police said Officer Lewis Dunlap and other officers saw a man fitting the description for the person with the gun standing at the driveway.

They said Dunlap chased the man and his associates through the courtyard and down the pathway to the rear of 1339 Fifth Street NW where Hawkins and at least one other teen-ager hid in the back yard. Dunlap, believing Hawkins had a gun pointed at him, shot the man in the neck, police said. Hawkins later died at Howard University Hospital.

Marie Cornwell, who lives at that address, said she opened her back door to allow the running teen-agers to flee through her house. She said two officers ran into her small, fenced back yard and confronted one young man standing there and Hawkins, who was hiding in the storage shed.

She said she heard Hawkins tell the officers not to shoot and that he was coming out. Moments later, he was shot.

She also contends that the officers kicked Hawkins after shooting him then kicked him again later in the presence a cameraman from Channel 9.

Sheldon Levy, the cameraman, said he arrived at Cornwell's back yard within a few minutes of the shooting.

"I never saw anyone abuse that fellow," he said.

Police said they found both cocaine and crack -- rocks of purified cocaine -- at the scene of the shooting along with a pair of scissors. No gun was found, they said.

One young man suggested the police might have confused the glitter of Hawkins' thick gold chain for a weapon.

Hawkins' parents, who live two blocks from the scene of the shooting, said they were confused by accounts of their son's death.

His mother, Selma Providence, said that her son was found guilty of distributing cocaine when he was 17 and had served two months at the city's youth detention center.

She said Hawkins was supposed to go into a Job Corps program earlier this summer, but had changed his mind and decided he would go back to school this fall. His stepfather, Charles Providence, said Hawkins did "odds and ends jobs for neighbors. He never had much money, but he had some."

"He tried to stay out of trouble," Selma Providence said. "He said {the police} kept jumping out on him, but they would never catch him with anything.

"So much had been going on over there lately. I told him to stay away" from Fifth and O streets.