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Officials weigh releasing security footage of police shooting at Wharf

Advocates have called on D.C. to make the video public. The officer involved was off duty and not wearing a body camera.

D.C. police officials said an off-duty commander fatally shot this man in the 800 block of Wharf Street SW. (D.C. police)

D.C. officials said Monday they are weighing whether to release security camera video that might show an off-duty police commander fatally shooting a man who authorities said pointed a gun Saturday night in the city’s waterfront entertainment district.

Advocates have called on the city to release the footage of the incident at the Wharf, though Police Chief Robert J. Contee III said at a news conference Monday: “That decision has not been made yet.” The chief praised the officer involved in the shooting — who officials have told The Washington Post was Cmdr. Jason Bagshaw.

Contee said Bagshaw and his wife, who is also a D.C. police officer, “went toward the danger … and they took action.”

“I think it says they care a lot about the city,” the chief said. “We’ve seen across this country mass shootings that have happened all over the place.”

Contee said people on Wharf Street panicked and ran when they saw a man pull out a gun, and had the gunman started shooting before Bagshaw intervened, it “could have been dangerous and deadly” for bystanders.

Officials have said Bagshaw’s wife tackled a man who had been with the gunman.

D.C. law gives officials five business days to publicly identify an officer who uses serious force and release video from that officer’s body camera. But in this case, Bagshaw was off duty and not wearing a uniform or a camera.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said that because there is no body-camera video, the administration is not subject to the five-day deadline.

Harriet’s Wildest Dreams, a racial justice group, has demanded on Instagram that any video of the shooting be immediately made public. “Accountability is vital concerning this Police killing,” the Instagram post says.

It is not clear whether video from security cameras captured all or part of the encounter between Bagshaw and the man he fatally shot, Lazarus David Wilson, 23, of Dumfries, Va. Efforts to reach Wilson’s family have been unsuccessful.

Several representatives of restaurants or other businesses near where the shooting occurred declined to provide The Post with video from their security cameras or said they did not have video.

Bagshaw, a 20-year decorated veteran who heads the Special Operations Division, has declined to comment through a department spokesman.

The commander has been singled out by activist groups who have questioned his conduct handling demonstrations, particularly those involving racial justice after the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.

Officer who fatally shot man at Wharf was off-duty D.C. commander

Saturday’s shooting occurred shortly after 9 p.m. as Bagshaw and his wife were leaving a restaurant in the 800 block of Wharf Street SW, a popular waterfront promenade lined with bars and restaurants.

Contee said Bagshaw — who has not officially been identified by police but was identified by The Post in a report published Sunday — saw a man pointing a gun at others and ordered him to drop the firearm. Police said the man refused, and Bagshaw shot and fatally injured Wilson.

Police said Wilson had come to the District with another Virginia man and got into a dispute with other men from the District. Officials said Bagshaw may have interrupted an armed robbery. Police officials said they questioned others involved in the incident, and at least one person was uncooperative.

Noemy Sanchez, 21, who lives in Fort Worth and is in D.C. interning for a media company, said that she and a friend were headed toward Bistro Du Jour when they heard a pop and saw people running.

A few minutes later, she said, police stormed into the area, a helicopter hovered overhead and a police boat sped to the dock. “We realized it was something serious,” said Sanchez, who did not see the person with the gun or the shooting by the officer.

Her biggest concern, she said, was whether there was an active shooter and an ongoing threat. “That was scary, not really knowing what was going on,” Sanchez said.