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Family criticizes prosecutors who cleared D.C. sergeant in fatal shooting

The sergeant shot and killed Kevin Hargraves-Shird last year during a pursuit in the Brightwood Park neighborhood

Attorney Yaida O. Ford criticized federal prosecutors for not filing charges against a D.C. police sergeant who fatally shot Kevin Hargraves-Shird in July 2022 in Northwest Washington. The man’s family is standing behind the attorney. (Peter Hermann/The Washington Post)
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The family of a 31-year-old man who was fatally shot by a D.C. police sergeant in the Brightwood Park area last summer denounced federal prosecutors Tuesday for their decision not to pursue criminal charges in the case.

Speaking at a news conference, relatives of Kevin Hargraves-Shird and the family’s attorney said they felt disrespected by a public statement the U.S. attorney’s office for D.C. had issued explaining the decision. The family alleged that a private pathologist they hired to review the autopsy file and video from a police body camera came to different conclusions than government investigators had.

“I don’t know how they come to their conclusion,” said Yvette Shird, 52, one of Hargraves-Shird’s sisters. “They need to do better. They need to do a lot better.”

The family’s attorney, Yaida O. Ford, said the decision not to bring charges “demonstrates a lack of accountability” in an office that investigates police conduct. She called the U.S. attorney’s office statement “irresponsible.”

Prosecutors said in their statement there was “insufficient evidence to pursue” a criminal case against Sgt. Reinaldo Otero-Camacho.

“We express our sincerest condolences to the family as they try to process this profound loss,” Patricia Hartman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office, said in a statement. “We will not be providing further comment on this incident, beyond what was in our press release.”

The sergeant remains on administrative leave as D.C. police begin their internal review to determine if the 17-year veteran violated policies or procedures in the shooting. In a brief interview last week, Otero-Camacho said the incident was a “sad situation for everybody involved.”

The shooting occurred in July in Fort Slocum Park in Northwest Washington, during a pursuit that followed the shooting of two juveniles several blocks away on Longfellow Street.

D.C. police release body-camera video from officer in fatal shooting

A video of the encounter, released by police, showed the sergeant yelling “gun” several times just before firing at Hargraves-Shird, who was 35 yards away. The footage did not show what threat, if any, prompted the sergeant to fire.

Police said Hargraves-Shird was struck in the right ear, and a gun was recovered near where he fell. In their statement, prosecutors said that Hargraves-Shird’s DNA was found on the firearm and that he “was likely facing” Otero-Camacho when the sergeant fired a single shot.

Ford took issue with that part of the statement, saying prosecutors jumped to the wrong conclusion about which way Hargraves-Shird was facing based on the bullet’s entry point.

Prosecutors, Ford said, made “the wild statement that Mr. Shird was likely facing the officer when he was shot. That is absolutely not true.”

Ford said that the pathologist hired by the family believed the evidence shows “that Kevin was not facing the officer in any manner before the officer fired his weapon.” She said the sergeant fired as Hargraves-Shird ran from his vehicle and was struck as he “rotated his head to look behind him while he was running.”

The attorney also said the sergeant gave no commands for Hargraves-Shird to stop. Police at the time of the shooting said there is no legal requirement for such a warning. The police chief said the sergeant may have yelled “gun” to warn a group of people who were playing on a nearby moon bounce.