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Teenager fatally shot by U.S. Park Police officer in Northeast D.C.

3 min

A U.S. Park Police officer fatally shot a 17-year-old driver in Northeast Washington on Saturday morning after getting into the car with him, authorities said.

The shooting occurred around 9:30 a.m. on the 300 block of 36th Street NE after the officer climbed into the back seat of the car, which authorities believed was stolen, and the driver began driving away, according to police spokespeople. It is unclear why the officer entered the vehicle.

D.C. police identified the driver as Dalaneo Martin of Northwest Washington.

The incident began when D.C. police received a call about a suspicious vehicle, and officers found the car parked with the engine running, according to a D.C. police spokesman. The driver appeared to be asleep or nodding off, the spokesman said. The officers ran the tags and determined the vehicle was stolen, according to the spokesman, and called for backup.

Two Park Police officers responded to the call near 34th and Baker streets NE, said Park Police spokesman Thomas Twiname. They approached the car, and one of them got into the back seat, at which point the driver appeared to wake up and hit the accelerator, the D.C. police spokesman said.

The officer was “trapped in the vehicle,” Twiname said, and unable to escape. The officer gave commands to stop and then discharged a firearm, Twiname said. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

After the driver was shot, the car then crashed into a house, according to the D.C. police spokesman. No one inside the house was injured.

Kenneth Spencer, chairman of the Park Police union, said a weapon was recovered from the vehicle. The D.C. police spokesman also said that a gun was recovered.

The incident is under investigation by D.C. police.

Following the shooting, a woman who identified herself as Martin’s mother was at the scene, being comforted by family members and community activists. “Oh, God,” she said. “You know I am not built for this! Help me God. Why?”

She yelled at police officers present: “You’re supposed to protect us. He was only 17!”

Other family members arrived. A young woman who identified herself as Martin’s girlfriend carried a 5-month-old baby and sobbed loudly. A woman who identified herself as Martin’s sister shouted, “This baby is now going to grow up without a father!”

Nee Nee Taylor, a community activist with Harriet’s Wildest Dreams, a mutual-aid and community defense organization, was at the scene and criticized the shooting. “Why are police officers getting inside of a vehicle?” she asked. “And why didn’t he just get out? There are two doors to the back seat.”

Twiname, the Park Police spokesman, said there is no department policy as to whether an officer can or should get into a car with a suspect. Asked why the officer entered the car’s back seat, Twiname said that is part of the ongoing investigation.