UPDATED: Police say man who was fatally shot disobeyed orders, had ‘booby trap’ to detonate shotgun shell
Family disputes account, says police shot him without giving commands
A Potomac man fatally shot by police while they executed a search warrant last week was first told to show his hands and get on the grounds, Montgomery County police said Tuesday.
But his family says police never gave him commands before shooting him.
Police said in a press release that they were investigating a tip that Duncan Socrates Lemp, 21, of the 12200 block of St. James Road, illegally possessed several firearms.
Officers went to Lemp’s home early Thursday with what they described as a “high-risk” search warrant.
Using a “no-knock warrant,” officers entered Lemp’s home at about 4:30 a.m. “consistent with Montgomery County Department of Police practice,” and announced their presence and why they were there, the news release said.
Officers told people inside the home to show their hands and get on the ground.
When officers encountered Lemp and identified themselves, he did not obey commands, police said.
The press release said police gave Lemp “multiple orders to show his hands and comply with the officer’s commands to get on the ground.”
Instead, he walked toward his bedroom, where other officers were.
Police contend that Lemp was “standing directly in front” of the bedroom door “at the time the officers made entry into the bedroom.”
Lemp’s family has alleged that officers shot at Lemp’s window, and that their use of force that night was unjustified. In a statement Tuesday night, Lemp’s family said that he was shot “multiple times” by officers and killed. The family said officers “initiated gunfire and flash bangs” through Lemp’s bedroom window, but never gave Lemp orders.
“Consistent with the no-knock warrant obtained by police, the eyewitness told investigators that police never made verbal commands upon either her or Duncan until after Duncan was shot and lay bleeding on the floor,” the family said.
Additionally, the family stated that “eyewitnesses told investigators” that police only entered the home after Lemp was shot.
“According to those eyewitnesses, the police had no contact with any family members until after Duncan was shot,” the family said.
The family has also said that Lemp and his family were sleeping when police began shooting at the house.
Police did not indicate in the press release on Tuesday any specific details of an officer shooting Lemp, including when it happened.
However, in a previous press release on Friday, police wrote: “During the warrant service, the suspect confronted the officers and was fatally shot by an officer assigned to the Tactical Unit.”
In interviews last week, police declined to comment about what led to the shooting.
When the department finishes its investigation, the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office will review the shooting as part of a reciprocal agreement with Montgomery County. The agreement mandates that one county’s state’s attorney’s office review any officer-involved shooting in the other county if there is an injury or death.
Officer Rick Goodale, a police spokesman, referred all questions about the events of the shooting to the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office,. All evidence the Montgomery County Police Department’s major crimes division uncovers, he said, will be turned over to Howard County.
“Exactly who and where and what transpired, all of that is under investigation,” he said.
Police also said Tuesday that Lemp had a “booby trap” in his bedroom doorway intended to detonate a shotgun shell at anyone who entered the room, according to police.
Police found a rifle there and “a device” affixed to the door frame.
The device was a “booby trap,” intended to “detonate a shotgun shell at the direction of anyone entering” Lemp’s bedroom, the news release said.
A person in Lemp’s bedroom allegedly warned officers to be aware of the device and said Lemp slept with the rifle each night.
The police release does not identify who the person is.
The officer who shot Lemp was placed on administrative leave and has not been publicly identified.
Police have alleged that Lemp illegally owned three rifles and two shotguns.
He was prohibited from possessing firearms until he turned 30 due to a juvenile criminal record, the press release said.
An attorney representing Lemp’s family alleged last week that police did not act appropriately in their use of force.
“We are undertaking a very intense investigation to determine whether or not there are any claims available to the family due to the intrusion and killing of their loved one in his home. The family was sleeping at the time of the intrusion, and quite vulnerable,” Rene Sandler, an attorney representing the family, told Bethesda Beat last week.
The Lemp family wrote in a statement last week that the warrant doesn’t mention “any imminent threat to law enforcement or the community” and that the police officer’s conduct during the shooting has been traumatic for the family.
“Any attempt by the police to shift responsibility onto Duncan or his family who were sleeping when the police fired shots into their home is not supported by the facts,” the family’s statement said.