DeOnt Rawlings Is Gone. The Cops Are Cleared. What's Left? There's still a lot to know about why a 14-year-old was shot in the back of the head.

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Soon after 14-year-old DeOnté Rawlings was shot in the head by an off-duty cop on Sept. 17, 2007, it was clear this case would require serious scrutiny. Too many pieces of the narrative didn’t add up. Outrage over the incident wasn’t just voiced by the usual police watchdogs; it lingered beyond the candlelight vigils and pulpit speechifying.

By now the basic facts are not in dispute. On the evening of the shooting, two off-duty D.C. officers—James Haskel and Anthony Clay—went looking for Haskel’s stolen minibike. After driving around for a bit, they creeped down an alley between 8th and Atlantic Avenue SE in the Highland Dwellings neighborhood.

It was there among the Dumpsters and rows of sagging backyard clothes lines that they spotted a boy riding the stolen bike. Haskel revved his champagne-colored Chevy Tahoe into reverse.

They then came face-to-face with the boy. Haskel and Clay did not introduce themselves as police officers. They did not brandish their badges. They did not get on their police radio for assistance.

The boy dropped the bike and then allegedly took out a pistol, firing off two rounds at the Tahoe. Haskel returned fire. The boy darted off, Haskel insists, while continuing to fire his weapon. Haskel got out of the Tahoe and soon got off several more shots—eight in total.


The two cops fled the scene. The minibike disappeared. The gun that the boy was supposed to have fired has not been recovered. No physical evidence has emerged corroborating Haskel’s story that the boy fired multiple shots as he ran from the alley.

The cops ran from their responsibilities to the dying boy. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, following a seven-month investigation, declined to prosecute Haskel and Clay. The following September, the D.C. Police Department cleared the two cops of wrongdoing as well. It continues to stonewall on releasing the full investigative record.

Law enforcement insists that the boy who stole the minibike and fired on those cops was the one Haskel shot in the back of the head. That’s where the official narrators would like to end this case. But the Rawlings family attorney, Gregory Lattimer, refuses to go along.

Lattimer took the case a few weeks after Rawlings’ funeral. He hasn’t stopped investigating since—poring over police records, interviewing witnesses in the neighborhood, and taking depositions. Police officials may have put the Rawlings file in storage. But Lattimer’s file is active and has turned out to be a significant archive of conflicting evidence and sloppy police work.

Lattimer still isn’t convinced that Rawlings was on that minibike and that he fired at the cops. Although he has a financial stake in proving his theory—he has filed a $100 million lawsuit in federal court—he continues to uncover evidence and talk openly about his findings, much to the dismay of Attorney General Peter Nickles. Attorneys representing the city recently requested in U.S. District Court that Lattimer be held in contempt for allegedly disclosing grand jury materials. The lawyer characterizes the move as frivolous and a crude attempt to get this case out of the headlines. “I’m not intimidated by them,” Lattimer says. “I’ll fight that battle every single day.”

Among the finds in the lawyer’s files:

• In the initial police account of the shooting, a detectives reported he arrived shortly after the incident and spotted a cluster of kids around a red minibike. He saw the kids pushing the bike away from the area. The detective did not know the minibike was important. After conferring with another official on the case, he immediately went back to the porch where he first saw the bike. He knocked on the door, and a kid he recognized answered and then promptly closed the door. It is unclear whether police ever followed up with this kid. Lattimer says there is no evidence police ever obtained a warrant for that home.

• In a deposition with the police officer who picked up Haskel and drove him away from the scene, the officer admitted that a dispatcher directed him to do so. He also admitted he might have been the first officer to arrive at the shooting. Instead of attending to Rawlings, his orders were to take care of Haskel.

• Perhaps most alarming is the discovery of Haskel’s minibike the day after the shooting. In a deposition taken in March of this year, Haskel’s friend Bobby E. McNair stated that he found the minibike and that a boy turned it over. When the boy got off the bike, a gun fell out of his pocket. McNair stated that he told police the same story. Lattimer says there is no mention of the gun in any police report.

Lattimer says he has interviewed close to a dozen witnesses who contend Rawlings was not on that minibike and did not shoot at the two cops. That night, he believes, Rawlings had visited a nearby rec center and then hung out with friends on a patch of grass a few feet from the incident. Rawlings, he believes, got caught in the crossfire trying to run away through a narrow cut between two housing units.

At this point in his investigation, Lattimer says he’s close to the most important detail of all—the real identity of the minibike thief. That person, he says, is not DeOnté Rawlings.

After all his investigative work, Lattimer is surprised that the U.S. Attorney’s Office stuck behind the faulty, official narrative and failed to file charges. “They know everything I know,” he says. “They know just what I know.”

Below, in their own words and under oath, several of the players in the shooting death of DeOnté Rawlings explain their histories and what happened. Lattimer conducted these depositions from fall 2008 through spring 2009.

The Personnel File

At the beginning of their depositions, Officers Anthony Clay and James Haskel were asked to provide their history with the D.C. Police Department. They had very little, if any, recent patrol experience.

Lattimer: How long have you been a police officer?

Clay: 21 years.

Lattimer: Where are you currently assigned?

Clay: The Police Training Academy.

Lattimer: When did you start with MPD?

Clay: Upon graduation, I was assigned to the first district substation, at which time I spent five years as a patrol officer. In ’92 I was transferred to the Police Academy and currently I’m at the Police Academy.…I’m a certified instructor, but I no longer teach a class.…I went to the Academy to be a – to work in the media production unit.

Lattimer: What is that, media production unit?

Clay: We make the training videos.

Lattimer: So did you ever teach any classes while you were at the Academy?

Clay: I assisted with the motorcycle class, the scooter class.

Lattimer: How are you employed, sir?

Haskel: By the Metropolitan Police Department.

Lattimer: How long have you been so employed?

Haskel: 23 years…

Lattimer: All right. And starting with your graduation from the Academy, where have your assignments been?

Haskel: Patrol in the first district, auto theft in the first district, assigned to information technology at headquarters and currently SOD, air support unit.

Lattimer: What are you doing with SOD air support?

Haskel: I’m the technical flight officer.

Lattimer: Does that mean you fly?

Haskel: No, I’m the officer that gives communications to the ground units…

Lattimer: Now, with SOD as a technical flight officer, do you still perform the duties of a patrol officer as well?

Haskel: I don’t understand your question.

Lattimer: In other words, are you in uniform?

Haskel: A flight suit.

Lattimer: A flight suit.

Haskel: Yes.

Lattimer: Now, before the SOD assignment, where were you?

Haskel: Information technology.

Lattimer: And what did you do there?

Haskel: Installed computers and helped people with logging on to the computer system with the Metropolitan Police Department.…

Shooting Experience

Before he shot Rawlings, Haskel, while off-duty, fired on two teenagers in separate incidents. Both shootings took place around a Chinese carryout on Southern Avenue SE. In one, he fired and missed. In another, he struck a 15-year-old three times in the back, the buttocks, and in the shoulder. Lattimer says in both cases, Haskel fired on his subject when they had their backs turned away.

In both cases, Haskel stated in his deposition that the teens had guns. In one incident, according police records, Lattimer says, Haskel claimed he was fired upon. Lattimer says the guns and shells casings were never found. Both shootings were ruled justified. During his deposition, Haskel was asked about the shootings.

Lattimer: Prior to Sept. 17, 2007, other than at the range, had you had to use your service weapon?

Haskel: Yes.

Lattimer: And when was that?

Haskel: You want the dates?

Lattimer: Yes. The best you can recall.

Haskel: I can’t recall dates at all.

Lattimer: Well, what’s the approximate dates? Well,

let’s do it this way. How many times did you use your service weapon?

Haskel: Twice.

Lattimer: Twice. OK. And when you used your weapon on the first time, when was that?

Haskel: February of ’04, ’05, I think.

Lattimer: And what—what reason did you use your weapon at that time?

Haskel: [W]itnessed a guy chasing someone shooting. As he was chasing the guy, I pulled my weapon, told him I was a police officer, he turned on me, I fired one round.

Lattimer: And did that round take effect?

Haskel: No.

Lattimer: So you told him you were a police officer?

Haskel: Yes.

Lattimer: Why was that?

Haskel: Why was that?

Lattimer: Yes.

Haskel: Because I’m a police officer.…He was running away from me, and I got his attention by yelling police officer.

Lattimer: OK. Was it—was that man eventually captured?

Haskel: Yes.

Lattimer: By you or someone else?

Haskel: By someone else.

Lattimer: And when was the next time you used your weapon?

Haskel: Uncandidly in the same location.

Lattimer: 7th Avenue?

Haskel: Yes, 7th Avenue, I was at the restaurant there, and when I came out someone attempted to carjack me.

Lattimer: What happened?

Haskel: I was asked to surrender my keys and he told me to run off. I started to run, I turned and I fired

my weapon.

Lattimer: Did he have a weapon pointed at you;?

Haskel: Yes, in my back.

Lattimer: So he told you to leave and then you turned and started shooting at him?

Haskel: Right.

Lattimer: How many times did you shoot?

Haskel: I don’t remember.

Lattimer: Did any of the rounds take effect?

Haskel: Yes.

Lattimer: How many?

Haskel: Three.…In the shoulder and the side…

Lattimer: So he wasn’t facing you at the time you shot him?

Haskel: Sideways.

Lattimer: Was he running away?

Haskel: He was on the fence.

Lattimer: What do you mean?

Haskel: He was on a fence, he was climbing over a fence.…I was behind him.

Lattimer: You were chasing him?

Haskel: Yes.

Lattimer: How did the chase come about?

Haskel: OK. I fired, but none of the rounds took effect, the first couple rounds, so he ran off.

Lattimer: And as he was trying to climb over a fence, you shot him three times?

Haskel: As he turned to fire at me.

Lattimer: OK. Did he ever fire at you?

Haskel: No.

The Day of the Shooting: Police Respond to Haskel’s Home

Clay had just finished his day shift and was home in the Walter E. Washington Estates, where Haskel also lives. Haskel had the day off. He spent much of that day taking care of his newborn son. In the early evening, he drove him to Clinton, Md., for a swim lesson. A neighbor, whom Haskel remembers as “Fred,” called him on his cell phone with the bad news. Haskel had left his garage open and someone had stolen his minibike.

The neighbors called the police to report the robbery. By the time Haskel arrived back at his home, a police officer had pulled up.

The officer was from the Emergency Response Team and had heard the call over the radio.

Lattimer: All right. And when you got home, what happened?

Haskel: The neighbors were all out. There was an officer there.…The neighbors called about the burglary and 7D dispatched it. He heard the run dispatch and he responded…

Lattimer: You didn’t take down his name?

Haskel: No.

Lattimer: Why?

Haskel: Didn’t feel the need to.

Lattimer: I thought he was investigating the burglary?

Haskel: I said he responded.

Lattimer: OK, so what was he just doing, just standing around?

Haskel: Yes, basically when I got there, he was sitting in his cruiser.

Lattimer: So he just came there and just sit and looked around?

Haskel: If you want to know exactly what he done, you may have to get him here and ask him some questions…

Lattimer: So when you got there, did you have any communication with 7D?

Haskel: No.

Lattimer: Why?

Haskel: He told me that 7D had the call and would respond and was coming out to the call.

Lattimer: So he told you that 7D was coming out to the call.

Haskel: Right.

Lattimer: Did you wait for them to get there?

Haskel: No.

Lattimer: Why?

Haskel: I was in the neighborhood, I just figured I’d just go out and see if I could find the minibike….

Lattimer: You weren’t going to wait for the police to come and take the report, right?

Haskel: Well, they were coming.

Lattimer: I know.

Haskel: OK.

Lattimer: But you weren’t going to wait for them. Right?

Haskel: No.

Lattimer: And you sort of figured you had an idea where it might be, right?

Haskel: Kind of an idea.

Lattimer: But you didn’t tell none of the police about that, right?

Haskel: No.

Lattimer: Because you were going to go get it yourself. Correct?

Haskel: Correct.

Lattimer: Now, did you take your radio?

Haskel: Did I take my radio?

Lattimer: Yes.

Haskel: No.

Lattimer: Did you take your badge?

Haskel: Yes.

Lattimer: Where was your badge?

Haskel: In my pocket.

The Search for the Minibike

Haskel had grown up in the neighborhood and stated in his deposition that he had an idea of where the minibike might have ended up. Clay got into the passenger seat with his police radio as well as his police-issued Glock. The two would eventually end up in the Highland Dwellings neighborhood a few blocks away from their homes.

Lattimer: Did you go alone?

Haskel: I started out alone.

Lattimer: You started out from your house alone?

Haskel: Yes.

Lattimer: And did that change?

Haskel: Yes.

Lattimer: How did that change?

Haskel: Officer Clay said he would go with me.

Lattimer: How did that happen? If you’re driving, how did Officer Clay say anything to you?

Haskel: When I’m driving out the lot where I live and he sees me leaving and he said, ‘hold on, I’ll go with you.’

Clay: Oh, like I say, I heard him talking to the neighbors. I was there with the neighbors. He wasn’t directly talking to me. I just—I can’t recall exactly what part, what got my attention, but I knew he was going to go look for his minibike.

Lattimer: So you decided to get in the truck with him?

Clay: I told him I’d ride along with him.

Lattimer: Why?

Clay: We’re both police officers. I’m a neighbor. I help out other neighbors if anything is needed.

Lattimer: What were you going to help him do?

Clay: You know, find it. Something that—something was taken from my house not too long ago. I figured we would ride around and find it.

Lattimer: OK. Did you know the police had been notified already?

Clay: No, I didn’t.

Lattimer: He didn’t tell you that?

Clay: No, he didn’t.

Lattimer: Nobody told you they called the police?

Clay: No.

Lattimer: All right. Now, did you all discuss where you all were going?

Clay: No.

Lattimer: Did you discuss what you were going to do?

Clay: No.

Lattimer: Did you discuss any plan?

Clay: No.

Lattimer: So you all just ride?

Clay: Yes.

Lattimer: Looking?

Clay: Yes.

Lattimer: For what?

Clay: His minibike.

Lattimer: OK. And do you know what his minibike looked like?

Clay: No.

Lattimer: So what are you looking for?

Clay: I’m just riding with him, waiting for him to

spot it.

Lattimer: So if 50 minibikes ride by you, you wouldn’t have no idea whether it was his or not?

Clay: No.

Lattimer: You’re just riding.

Clay: Yes.

Lattimer: What route did you take to get to this alley?

Haskel: Came down Yuma Street, then turned left on to 8th Street and then made a right into the alley.

Lattimer: Yuma to 8th and then the alley.

Haskel: Yes.

Lattimer: And there’s some residential buildings there?

Haskel: Yes.…Like I said before, you see a lot of bikes being ridden in that area and I just figured I might have a chance that my bike was over there as well.

The Rawlings File

Our Readers Say

Interesting reading, blame the Police Exonerate the criminal typical response, probually if the Mayor didn't get involved in this incident and let the professional handle it we would not be continueing to talk about this incident except for another lawyer attempting to milk the District Goverment for the benefit of some who have never contributed nothing to the District or Society.
Ok Cherkis, I have to give it up this time...Great story.
what do you expect, these cowardly dirty thugs murder a 14 year old boy and are protected by their union FOP whicih is a subsidiary of the KKK (klu klux klan). my heart goes out to the victim and his family. I thought the police are to protet and serve, so who are protecting the citizens from the police/thugs.
ps james haskel and anthony clay looks like criminals and MURDERS
Haskel seems a little trigger happy, eh?
Haskel should not have a gun.
Cherkis, how dare you quote transcripts from a police involved shooting of a 14 year old boy! You are so biased. You really crossed the line this time by reprinting mpd's sworn testimony. Totally unfair depiction of what the cops said. Couldn't you have just made up a story? Now the public knows some actual facts. The truth hurts, so why do you keep inflicting pain on us? Fenty and Lanier protect the public from things that make us feel bad, why can't you?
I am absolutely beside myself with this story. WTF???????

The stinkin @$$ cops made this up as they went. They didn't follow ANY ploice is that OK???????!!!!!

Karma will soon wreak havoc on these officers! You rescue the officer from the scene an he's not even hurt but you leave the kid laying there dying?????

How i n the hell does Haskell sleep at night. Do us all a favor and shoot you damn self in the head!!!!!!!!!! He will pay for this eventually. I'm sure he already is knowin he's guilty and lying.......AND he has to live with himself!

So Haskell - you have a newborn son what if someone did that to him over a stupid ass motor bike??????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I hope you burn in hell with all the cops that helped you cover this up. You're a sorry @$$ police that wasn't even good enought to be on patrol - why in the hell did they give you a gun? SORRY @$$ excuse for a human being. You know what........ HE"S watching ytou Haskell. You may be able to lie to us and get away with it but God knows what you did....don't forget that!
Since when does quoting selective, inflammatory passages from someone else's testimony count as "investigative journalism?" This whole article reads like it was put together by some high school kid working late on an assignment who was too lazy to write anything himself. I'd call it yellow journalism, but yellow journalism is at least entertaining.

And yes, of course they evacuated the officer... before he got torn apart by a mob. Have any of you ever even been to a public housing project? (Except to take pictures - sorry Cherkis.) An officer arrests someone on domestic violence, distribution of PCP, whatever - and the entire neighborhood comes out to fight. And yes, officer safety always comes first, even over rendering first aid to victims.

Anyway, great job on documenting the tireless and heroically noble mission of Lattimer to get his $100 million payoff from the city. Hell, he's already got the mayor behind him, but I'm sure your crack reporting can't hurt.

And to "anthony" and "trina" and the rest: you hate the police so much, next time someone decides to beat you, rape you or rob you, feel free not to call.
pete- what exactly is your criticism- that these officers' words are being taken out of context- if so, how? explain which part about them not identifying themselves and shooting at a boy from a car is ok (not to mention the rest). oh yea, while off duty looking for a goddamned bike.
Pete: I was going to get to this in a subsequent post but since you brought it up, I'll say it here too.


There was no mob. The only officer who described the aftermath scene at Highland Dwellings as hostile was Officer Haskel. All the other officers who went to the scene did not describe the scene as hostile. Even Clay doesn't suggest hostilities after Rawlings was shot.

The crowd, according to Wax's deposition, knew that Rawlings had been killed by the police. And they pretty much acted like all crowds do at crime scenes. There was nothing particularly hostile about this one.

Wax in his deposition all but admits that he made a mistake in using the word "hostile" to describe the scene at Highland Dwellings.

It's also a bit strange that officers who live in the neighborhood, and who work in the neighborhood would shrink from their responsibilities to a dying boy. Instead of questioning his actions, Haskel blames the neighborhood. Cops have a difficult job but it's one that they signed up for, one that they get paid to do. You can't not police an area or not attend to a dying boy out of alleged fear.

Especially when that fear is not backed up by facts and the testimony of fellow officers.
Pete: Why don't you quote the portions of the cops depositions that make your case? Cherkis put up links to the entire transcripts. So have at it. Expose Cherkis and show us the part where the cops say "Excuse me, sir, but I mispoke in answering the last 10 questions. Allow me to take it all back. Here's what I meant to say ...." Then maybe people will take your rant seriously.
Tina... why is it that the ones who always pass judgement on others and wish others harm can in the same scentence call on the Good Lord and expect an answer. I bet you think your saved too don't you? Be careful what you wish on others.... you may find a few years down the road those same wishes happening to you.

shoot you damn self in the head
burn in hell
you have a newborn son what if someone did that to him

If you are truly Gods Child.. you may want to check yourself instead of being so adamant after reading a newspaper article that someone else should burn in hell. The good book may be a better choice of reading for you.
Match: Yes, I think their words were taken out of context. As far as them not identifying themselves, shooting from a car, and being off-duty - yes, they were justified in doing that because they were being shot at. If someone were sending bullets in your direction (or even in your general area) would you jump out of your car, whip out your badge, and yell "Police?" That would be, in a word, silly. Officers are required to announce and identify, "Where and when practical." I daresay in this case it wasn't practical.

Cherkis: Actually, you made it a point to spell out that they DON'T work in the area. Haskel was former 1D, then detailed to the academy. The shooting took place in 7D. Clay was in the air wing. They're not 7D patrol officers. And Officer Fucci was dispatched to pick Haskel up. Haskel didn't run off; by your own words he was fewer than 100 yards from Rawlings's body. The dispatcher isn't at the scene, but knowing the area, she would naturally expect the worst. Also, I said, "safety" not "fear." Ergo, it was most likely a preventive measure. In an ideal world, should he have rendered first aid and preserved the crime scene? Of course. But he was off-duty, in plain clothes, in a dangerous environment, and had just been in a gunfight. I dare you or any of your readers to do any better.

Finally, the more I read the article, the more I'm not sure what your exact aim is, aside from rank sensationalism. I know Lattimer's big project is to find "the real gunman." Maybe he should enlist O.J.'s help when he gets out, I hear he has experience in that. But what's your angle? Do you think the cops shot the wrong kid? It's possible. Not that it would matter, because there seems to be no argument that SOMEONE was shooting at Haskel and Clay. If Rawlings got caught in the crossfire - it's a tragedy, yes, but the blame (both morally and criminally) would fall on whomever shot first. Haskel was still perfectly justified in using deadly force to defend himself.

Nice choice on the cover photo, by the way. How old is he in that picture, maybe ten? Not even a little sickened by the way you and Lattimer are using this to advance your own causes?
SO WHERE IS THE GUN? cops will lie, still and murder.

when they murder a person their first response hu hu "my life was being threaten so i murde the nigger"
pete i pay taxes, when or if i call 9-1-1 they better get their lazy thuggish ?** to were ever i am at. thank you
so they were off dutty when the murder this black BOY over a minibike, sounds like a coward move
Seriously. Nobody killed anybody over a minibike. Someone got shot because they or someone they knew and/or were standing near shot at the police, who naturally returned fire. And apparently, some people in this city really need to learn how to read.
Recovering stolen property isn't a police officer's job? Interesting. I feel so misled... But since you type it in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, what can I possible say to argue?

And quit calling Rawlings a baby. 14 yrs old isn't an adult, but it's not a "baby." A toddler didn't crawl up in a diaper and steal the bike. And those police officers (the ones defending themselves, as I may have mentioned) are someone's sons, brothers and fathers, too. They have as much a right to not get shot as the next person.
mini bike is the reason that boy was killed......... pete read the transscript............
No, anthony, those officers were fired upon, and they returned fire defending themselves. Shotspotter recorded gunshots before the officer fired his weapon.

And I quote: "From very early on in the case, law enforcement cited ShotSpotter recordings indicating that someone fired at the police first. The audio suggested that the civilian fired as many as four times. Another person—presumably Haskel—fired eight rounds."
This is sad. to think 2 police with 20yrs experience make such bad judments
every step.

when they went looking for the minibike they knew what to expect.

being from that area. if u look for trouble u will find trouble.

not identfying yourself as police.the teen may have thought he was getting rob.
then not securing the crime area or the teen gun, which was never found. but what makes me sick, is walking away when u know u just shot a boy .

i ask you dose this sound like a police who been on the force for 20 years?

my heart gose out to the rawlings family.
do you really think that what was published was the entire transcript??? These things take hours and are hundreds of pages. This guy took the ones that suited his position and published them. Glad to see that Jason is up to his usual erhical standard
Gary as much as I'd love to have done what you suggest, my editors and publisher would not run all four hundred plus pages of deposition testimony I sifted through. So yeah, I did compile what I thought would be the most relevant testimony that would be of interest to readers. You might see it as bias.

But all the depositions are provided on the cover's first page on the website in a we got you covered! If you think we missed something, please point it out.

I don't think we missed anything. But am open to your thoughts.
Cherkis, why persist in correcting a couple serial commenters who aren't intersested in reading the entire transcripts? They decided this case before you wrote about it. Do you really believe they'll let facts influence their opinions?
You mean facts like... say, a certain friend of Rawlings's named Clifton Coleman's having the gun matching the .45 shell casings at the scene and then using it to shoot his girlfriend in the face? ("Accidentally," of course.)

Or Coleman admitting to authorities that Rawlings fired at the officers?

Facts like those?

How is it that Clifton Coleman is the only one to ID Rawlings as the shooter? Coleman's mom, according to Lattimer, doesn't back him up.

Also, are you really going to stand by Coleman? A jury would have a hard time believing him considering he got just 6 months for shooting his girlfriend in the face. A sweet deal.

I did miss the link at the begining
Pete: I suggested several days ago (around the 5th comment on this article) that you quote transcripts or other specific evidence that you believe would persuade a reasonable person that Cherkis unfairly omitted items that make your case.I'm still waiting. Until then, your selective"facts", even if I could uderstand your odd logic, are unpersuasive.
I have read all of the comments and i find it very sad that we all are not in agreeance on one thing: the police did not follow proper procedures. Hell, Officer Fucci and Mr Wax did not know what the proper procedure was for this incident. I find it difficult to grasp the fact that the people that are hired to protect and serve can get away so easily with taking a young man's life. Protect and Serve, is that still the moto for the police department?.

These men lived and grew up in the area, so yes they were looking for trouble. I understand that they did not patrol the area but they grew up there so they knew just as well as everyone else what could have happened while looking for Lattimer's minibike. When lattimer said "drop the bike" he should have said Police, drop the bike. What split seccond decision made him forget he was a police officer. I am just appauled and honestly if they were to ever respond to a crime happening to or around me, i would not be able to trust that they would handle things efficiently. People we are forgetting that a 14 year old boy is dead and no amount of money or press can bring him back.
*Correction* Haskel's bike and Haskel should have identified himself as the police
It is most unfortunate a life was lost, but it appears all parties involved are at fault. There a several questions that should be answered before judgment is passed upon the off-duty officers, the MPD, and the deceased youth.

First, I wonder if the boy knew he was riding on a stolen mini-bike. From the facts presented in the story it would appear he had to have an inkling the bike was stolen. There is a level of assumed risk when taking part in, or enjoying the fruits of criminal activity. It is unfortunate such a young life was lost, but he was of an age where he was fully aware of right and wrong. And his age alone should not indemnify him from responsibility. In addition, his association with others who carry weapons had to make him aware of the fact he was in harms way.

Second, shouldn't the off-duty officers have been treated like anyone else involved in a gun fight. They should have been arrested just as would have been the case for any other District resident. When officers decide to discharge their weapons when off-duty in response to conduct that is not somehow specifically associated with their employ as police officers, there should be a higher evidentiary standard for the justification for the use of force. The theft of the mini-bike could have happened to any resident of the District, as such, when the officers chose to engage in a self-help remedy by pursuing the bike on their own, they also took on a considerable burden. I doubt any common citizen would have been treated as these officers were had they chosen to chase after their own stolen property and engaged in a gun fight as a result.

Lastly, where was the supervision of these teenagers. My heart goes out to the families involved; however, this story should serve as a warning to parents to closely supervise their children and manage their children's associates. If Rawlings was nothing more than a bystander fleeing the scene for a safer place, who was mistaken for an involved party, this is truly a tragedy that cannot be fixed. If he was in fact involved in the theft or shooting, it at least colors the manner in which the circumstances should be viewed, and undermines the damages sought by Lattimer.
Usually if the fish stinks, it is rotten.

These two moron cops weren't rookies, they were old veterans. They knew at the time what proper procedure was and they just outright refused to follow it. Furthermore, these two morons shouldn't have been so worried about the damn bike. They should have called the police and filed a report, not taken matters into their own hands and engaging in vigilante justice.

The type of behavior these two morons engaged in is the same ghetto behavior that defines power by the barrel of a gun. If you disrespect or steal from me, I am going to kill you. The police in this city are corrupt, disrespectful, and stupid. The mayor and the police chief should be fired for their incompetence and corruption in this case.

Nobody likes a punk criminial stealing from them or committing other crimes and lord knows there are plenty of punk criminals in this city. But if you take matters into your own hands and things go awry, you have to be held accountable.

We need the police to do their jobs in a smart, responsible and resepectful way. In return, the citizens will respect and honor those who are working to protect them. When either side abstains from their respective responsiblities, the entire system begins to corrode.
I'm sick of everyone thinking they are the righteous ones here. Mistakes were made all around. Deonte was not completely innocent here, he was riding a bike that his actions say he knew was stolen. Yes, he might not have shot at the cops himself, but its understandably difficult to tell where things are coming from with the design of those projects, and if I were Haskel, I would have thought it was Deonte and shot him. Yes it was messy police work, but the police are people too. We all make mistakes. Yes Haskel should have, in my opinion, identified himself as police if only to establish authority and get the bike back easier, and he should have covered the scene and performed first aid on Deonte. But he was a guy who had just been shot at and shot a kid when he was just trying to get his bike back. I would have been paralyzed, and with people crowding around the body--yes, it was safer for him to stay away. He had every right as a person to try to recover his stolen property, he can't help it that as a cop he HAS to carry a gun and HAS to shoot if shot at. He got himself into a situation he couldn't help, he said to another officer at the scene, "Why did he have to have a gun?" I feel sorry for police officers who are nothing but vilified in the projects when they are just doing their jobs. In the end, Haskel did his job imperfectly, but well enough. He did the best he could, I think, Deonte IS gone and it is a tragedy and something Haskel will have to live with. Deonte was more than just someone shot by a cop I think its time to move beyond how he died and remember him for the person he was. Did anyone know him here? I'd like to hear something about him if so.
everbody is trigger happy even the 14 yearold everbody must have gun
i knew this boy from the school he attended and i worked at. he was heading in this direction and i am not surprised, unfortunately, that he ended up dead. he has been asking for it for years...
and all just for a minibike......
Again, Frank, not for a minibike. Because he shot at the police.
The kid may not have been entirely innocent, but it does no take a rocket scientist to see the lack of professionalism, intolerance, corruption, cowboy crusade, idiotic and stupidity acted out by these 2 clowns! Ayy Pete, reality check dude, no gun or rounds were recoveredand that is a very remote yet open area where hy chased and eventually SLAUGHTERED that young'n and he was a child, bottom line! That mini bike does not equal his LIFE do YOU understand that, how bout you get shot for saying what you are and then it's justified cuz' the cop says you had a gun and shot at them, SENSELESS!
Actually Kevin, you may not know this, but the gun that Coleman shot his girlfriend with matched the slugs or whatever found in the car. He also admitted to taking the gun off the scene. And yes, of course he would never have admitted this if he didn't think it would help him get off in his case, cause I'm sure he hates cops as everyone in that neighborhood seems to. And even if Deonte wasn't the shooter, which he was, shots WERE fired at the cops and they only shot because of that. If anyone is to foot the blame for this being "all over the minibike" it would be the person that shot first, or Deonte himself.
The police behavior in this article is most charitably described as unprofessional, and more realistically as thuggish and gang-like.

The fact that we tolerate this behavior from government agents operating under color of law shows how far our society's sense of civic engagement has fallen.

250 years ago, we started a revolution rather than be terrorized by unaccountable uniformed goons; these days, we hardly care, as long as it's not happening to anyone we know.
pete you must one dc'finest a above the law thuggish police. why : you are protected by FOP I MEAN KKK THE RIGHT TO KILL AND NOT BE BOTHER
Pete has brought up many valid points. I can't say the same for you. All you do is bring up race, when it has nothing to do with anything here, and make absurd comments primarily consisting of the word "thug."
The little punk got what was coming, plain and simple. He was ridding a motorbike he knew was stolen. That alone will get you killed. Did the cops follow procedure? No. But, I don't blame either of them. As a DC resident and tax payer, I say good riddance.

Pete, not sure if you are MPD. But if you are, thanks and keep it up. I can only hope that you're one of the officers that is actually working. By biggest problem with MPD is that there are to many lazy officers, like the female officer in the story that refused to help recover the stolen bike.
Pete and the rest of the gang,it is easy to say what you say from the saftey of your house but remember we live by universal rules everyone gets what he or she intents.First by looking at the officer he has a thing against youngn's thats three he shot no adults no twentysomethings that is going to take the fight to him, you street nigg@#$% know what i am talking about. look at his job discription it isn't S.W.A.T long story short he was a scared dude that had problems with youngn's so it ended that way, he could have said i am the police they say it every other time. As for the youngn if you play with or associate with people with guns 9 times out of 10 you will get shot...
As men we have a responsibility to deal with our failings or it will deal with us.Do not be weary of youngn's, Get some heart..people who are cowards tend to be heavy handed, all emotion no heart. Men dont have Heart anymore.....
o. m. g. i'm late, but i'm here.

are pete, heather, and ward1livin on the same planet as the rest of us?

I don't profess to know what happened, and I'm too simple to pass judgment,


I've met some pretty interesting kindergarteners in DCPS who KNOW that the FIRST thing an officer does is identify himself. Each officer has been with the force 20 years. And if he used it about 25 times a year, filming scenes for training videos, then he's said it about 1000 times. So, did he just forget it?

I'm not saying that this would have changed the outcome of the story, but a it begs the question: How many police officers don't know or follow basic rules and procedures?

Not only that, I have lived in and near high-crime areas long enough to know that nobody ever forgets to lock their doors or let down their garages (if they have 'em). EVER.

And that one time I was robbed, I was smitten with my iPod, my gold HYPE bag from London via eBay, and my digital camera. But I wasn't stupid enough to go after it. And I didn't miss the bullets in that gun barrel I was looking down. Don't even let me get started on MPD's disastrous job. (I mean, where is my victim's police report?)

Bottom line is that this all boils down to choices, and there were some pretty stupid ones made here on all sides. May the absolute truth quickly see the light of day.
Where is the gun shot residue.....

Where is the shells from the officer's gun.....

Couldnt it be that Clay is lying about shooting his gun and all the shots came from where the SUV was parked??

If someone is shooting at you at point blank range how do he miss if his intent is to kill or maim???

Why is it ok to chase the guy down even if he did shoot and run???

Why is it ok to erase the evidence at will and everything be ok???

Why is the officers in the shooting not in jail for breaking at least 1 crime but others will go to jail quick over comtempt of court???

Why should it matter if the person who is dead is 14 or 50???

Why cant someone have a moral high road instead of trying to save the DC government its budget???

Why would other cops not be charged as accomplices????

Why havent anyone in the area spoke of the time of day this happened??

Why arent there any witnesses???

Why cant the facts just speak for themselves???

I read this after finding out the guy's brother got shot today just to find out more about what happened and I am appalled at the lackisdaisical attitude of those who are involved in this case. I also have seen Nickles reject other lawsuits to save big corporations money.

Why cant there be some level above all those that are willing to do their job which is enforcing the laws and judging when they are broken?
Why do the residents of DC always take up for the low life thug animals? I never see a story where one of theses punks is shot where a bunch of DC denziens come out crying police brutality. Maybe it takes brutality to deal with brutes. You expect choir boy behavior from men who deal with career liars, drug dealers, thieves, gangbanging killers. After 90 days of that, getting disrespected, lied to constantly, no cooperation, etc, ANYONE will start to resort to less than ideal behavior. Compound the fact that the city doesnt like to hire any caucasians and recruits form the HOOD what sort of men do you THINK will get the job? Its humorous to hear the po po called kkk, when most of the force, and these men themselves, are black.

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