Four Maryland police officers will not be charged for fatally shooting a Black man they said fired first during a late-night foot chase in January.
No evidence was found that Kwamena Ocran, 24, fired at his pursuers. Nonetheless, a Maryland grand jury declined to charge the officers from the Gaithersburg police department – due to lack of evidence.
The four members of a plainclothes street crimes unit told investigators they saw a “muzzle flash” from a gun aimed at them by Ocran, according to statements released by Montgomery county prosecutors. One officer said he heard a round pass by his head.
All four officers fired on Ocran, who was running away. He was hit eight times, including twice in his “left lateral back”, according to a 12-page prosecutors’ report.
The officers involved were Sgt Willie Delgado, Officer Kyle Khuen, Cpl Larbi Dakkouni and Officer James Doyle. They remain on administrative leave while Gaithersburg police conduct an internal investigation.
The shooting happened outside the Chelsea Park apartments in central Gaithersburg on 8 January, after officers said they received a tip that Ocran, recently incarcerated for robbery, was illegally carrying a gun he intended to sell, according to the prosecutors’ report.
The tip indicated Ocran had said he was “not going back to jail” and would “shoot it out”, the report said.
The subsequent shooting was not recorded on video because Gaithersburg’s plainclothes officers were not required to wear body cameras. Another officer, who was wearing a camera, recorded footage of a gun next to Ocran’s body but investigators could not find physical evidence he had fired it.
Crime scene technicians failed to find shell casings from Ocran’s gun in three metal detector sweeps. They were only able to find the 23 shell casings from the officers’ guns, prosecutors said.
Christopher Sandmann, the Howard county deputy state’s attorney, told the Washington Post that while investigators prepped Ocran’s hands for gunshot residue analysis, there was a “mistake or miscommunication” and his hands were not swabbed.
According to Sandmann and the Howard county state’s attorney, Rich Gibson, investigators did find gunshot residue on the right sleeve of Ocran, but grand jurors were told by an expert witness it could have been transferred by the officers’ shots.
Gibson and Sandmann said the lack of evidence did not mean the officers were lying and that evidence could have been lost in the mud.
Brian McDaniel, an attorney for Ocran’s mother, said the family maintains the officers killed Ocran illegally and he never shot at them.
“He was my youngest child. They took him away from me,” Ocran’s mother, Melody Cooper, told the Pos.t “He was a great brother, a great son, a great uncle. He had his whole life in front of him.”
McDaniel said he expected to receive the full investigation files from prosecutors so he can conduct an independent investigation.