Hyattsville Council offers condolences for Leonard Shand’s death, asks patience from public


Michael Theis/Route 1 Reporter

Hyattsville Chief of Police Amal Awad speaks during an October 2019 community meeting to discuss the fatal police shooting of Leonard Shand.

Please see correction below story.

In the first City Council meeting since the fatal police shooting of Leonard Shand last month in Hyattsville, city officials expressed sadness over Shand’s death, even holding a brief moment of silence to commemorate him, but offered no new information about the incident. 

Early during the meeting, Hyattsville City Administrator Tracey Douglas said Shand’s death “was not the outcome our officers” wanted and emphasized an investigation into the incident, led by the Prince George’s County Police Department, was underway.

“We are checking regularly for updates,” said Nicholson. “We are continuing to be as transparent as possible. At this point, we will share the facts as soon as the investigation is concluded.” 

Shand’s death, caught on video shared on social media, has sparked debate in Hyattsville over issues relating to police oversight, accountability and thorny issues relating to the use-of-force by police officers against African Americans. Shand, an African American, was killed during a walking standoff in Hyattsville after 10 police officers opened fire as he lunged toward police. Both city and county police have said Shand was armed with two knives. 10 officers fired their guns during the incident, including six from Hyattsville, three from Prince George’s County and one from Mount Rainier. 

At the tail-end of the meeting, during a portion reserved for comment from Hyattsville’s 11-person City Council, just about every city elected officials expressed condolences for both Shand’s family and the police officers involved. City Councilor Edouard Haba called an impromptu moment of silence for Shand. 

Mayor Candace Hollingsworth encouraged those with questions or concerns about the incident to reach out to her office. She also said she plans to ask Hyattsville’s Police & Public Safety Citizens’ Advisory Committee and the city’s Race and Equity Task Force committee to jointly convene to provide feedback on the incident. 

Hyattsville City Councilor Ben Simasek, whose ward includes the area where Shand died, disclosed during his comments that he came upon the scene shortly after it unfolded. He said he “heard it” happen as he was on his way to work before encountering the scene at the intersection of Belcrest Road and Toledo Road.

“I want to express my condolences to the Shand family, and to the officers involved and their families. I know it’s traumatic on their end as well,” said Simasek. “It is important that everyone in our community be able to trust our city police force is here to protect and serve in the best interest of all citizens.”

Councilor Kevin Ward pressed for patience from the public while the circumstances leading to Shand’s death are investigated. 

“In allowing the process to play out, it doesn’t mean any of us will like the results of that, but it does mean we will get the results of that,” said Ward. “It is easy to be a coach from the sidelines, but it is hard to be a coach when you are standing on the field.”

“It is indeed a tragedy that Mr. Shand lost his life,” continued Ward. “That doesn’t neccessarily mean it will happen on anyones timeline, but I do hope that we all practice patience, because patience is not a weakness.”

Councilor Carianna Suiter also said “it has been a hard few days and weeks for the city of Hyattsville.”

“I think it is going to take a while for us to recover from this as a community,” said Suiter. 

Solomon, who has publicly disputed major aspects of the police narrative so-far put forth, was restrained in his comments, thanking city officials for holding a preliminary community meeting to discuss Shand’s death. 

Councilor Daniel Peabody said Shand’s death was a tragedy for Hyattsville. 

“Anytime a life is lost, especially when our police are involved, it is a tragedy. It is a tragedy for everybody,” said Peabody. “I await the results of the investigation and what I am sure will be many difficult and uncomfortable discussions about how we can prevent a tragedy like this from happening again.”

A vigil to commemorate Shand’s life is planned for Oct. 8, 2019, at 6525 Belcrest Road in Hyattsville from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Tracey Douglas by her maiden surname. The story has been updated. Route 1 Reporter regrets the error.

Route 1 Reporter is a subscriber-supported local news website. However, in the service of the public discourse, coverage relating to Leonard Shand’s death is being kept outside of the paywall.

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