“They took my baby, they just took my baby from me,” his mother, Natasha Kay, said at her home hours after the shooting. She said police told her very little about what had happened.
“I need my son back,” the mother said. “I want my son back.”
Police late Wednesday said the encounter began when officers responded to a report of a man with a gun and came upon several people in and around a vehicle. They said two of those people ran, one of them displayed a firearm and an officer fired in response.
Two city officials who viewed police body camera video of the incident said at least two officers approached a vehicle in a parking lot and a foot chase began. As one officer ran past the vehicle, the officials said the footage shows Kay pulling a gun from his waist. The officials said the officer fired, appearing to strike Kay in the chest.
City officials said they plan to publicly release the body camera footage as soon as Thursday. In a press release, police included photos of a gun they said Kay was carrying and a firearm they said was recovered from a man arrested at the scene.
Some people near the shooting scene questioned the police account. On Wednesday night, a few dozen demonstrators, including some of Kay’s family members, converged at the 7th District police station. Officers using bicycles as barriers pushed the crowd of people, many of them angry and emotional, away from the station doors.
Earlier, D.C. Council member Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8) told reporters at the scene that the community is “concerned about a young man being shot.”
Omar Jackson, a youth mentor who had worked with Kay for the past two years, said the young man “was trying to navigate through this chaotic situation out here.” He said Kay had just gotten into a high school equivalency program.
Jackson said Kay liked to spend time with his girlfriend and play sports, and he took care of his nieces and nephews. He said Kay’s mother was planning to move out of the area because it had gotten rough.
“He was trying to get himself together and get out of this situation,” Jackson said. “I feel bad. My job is to keep him out of situations like this.”
Kay’s aunt Marie McNeil, 57, said she saw her nephew Wednesday morning as he was joking about driving her car. “He told me, ‘Auntie, I love you,’ ” and she said, “I love you, too.”
McNeil said she told Kay not to get into trouble, and he said he wouldn’t. “I made sure that he was good,” she said.
At Natasha Kay’s home Wednesday night, family members and friends gathered on the stoop and porch. Natasha Kay sat looking out the window and crying. When one person went inside and asked if they could get her anything, she said, “My son.”
A police car was parked at the corner.
White, who talked with Natasha Kay after the shooting, said there has been tension between police and residents of Ward 8, which includes neighborhoods dealing with economic challenges and high crime rates.
The council member noted that some accounts of the shooting from residents differ from what police have said, though it is not clear whether those people witnessed the shooting.
“I want to get the truth out about what happened,” White said. “We need to figure out what the facts are. We are concerned.”
Near the 7th District station, police shut down streets along Alabama Avenue and Irving Street SE. Bicycle officers wearing white helmets blocked the station’s front door as demonstrators cursed and shouted, “What do you want? Justice! When do you want it? Now! If we don’t get it, shut it down.”
With many demonstrators raising a fist, the group shouted, “Rest in peace, Deon!”
The crowd, which grew to around 100 people as the night wore on, later began shouting, “We want answers!”
A new law passed by the D.C. Council to increase police accountability requires the police department to make public video from the body cameras of officers who fire their weapons in deadly shootings.
The family of the person shot can object, in which case the video will not be made public. If the family agrees, the video must be made public within five business days of the shooting.
D.C. police have shot four people this year; the young man shot Wednesday is the lone fatality. District police shot five people in 2019, one of them fatally, and two people in 2018, both of whom died.
Emily Davies, Marissa J. Lang and Alice Crites contributed to this report.