Report criticizes police actions in Shand killing

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Michael Theis/Route 1 Reporter

Tyrone Powers, pictured, is a former FBI agent who now works as a law enforcement consultant. He investigated the fatal 2019 police shooting of Leonard Shand in Hyattsville.

An outside investigation into the fatal police shooting of Leonard Shand found major problems with how police handled the events leading up to Shand’s death, while deeming the shooting itself to be “consistent with accepted standards of police practices.” The full 40-page report is embedded below this article and can be downloaded here.

The report was prepared by Powers Consulting Group’s Tyrone Powers, a former FBI agent hired as an outside consultant to review the incident and make recommendations. Powers was on hand to explain the findings of the report during a Sept. 10, 2020, press conference where Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy revealed a grand jury had declined to bring charges against anyone over the incident. A copy of the report was provided to Route 1 Reporter by the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office.

The report examines the morning of Sept. 26, 2019, when 10 police officers from departments representing Hyattsville, Prince George’s County, and Mount Rainier shot and killed Shand as he charged toward a line of police officers who had been trying to arrest him as a suspect in an assault several days before. Police and eyewitnesses interviewed in the report said Shand was armed with knives during the encounter, and was holding at least one knife during as he advanced on police. During his final moments, police fired four beanbag rounds, threw a flashbang grenade, and fired a total of 43 bullets at Shand, according to the report.

The report includes an overview of use of force policies and laws in the U.S., as well as eyewitness narratives from police officers and eyewitnesses on the scene when Shand had his deadly encounter with police. The report also includes Powers’ own analysis of the incident, and concludes with a section of recommendations for police agencies.

Among its central findings, the report said the police response to the half-hour walking standoff was poorly managed and uncoordinated. The report noted police failed to request assistance from an available Prince George’s County Mobile Crisis Team. The report also said that communication between Shand and police was “chaotic”, noting up to 12 officers were shouting orders at Shand at various points throughout the incident.

“There needed to be a lead communicator…for Mr. Shand and to officers from the various departments,” reads the report. “Instructions needed to be consistent and uniformed.”

While the report in several sections praises officers for attempting to de-escalate the situation, the timeline of events in the report describes police alternating between ineffective attempts to communicate with Shand and more aggressive actions, such as multiple ineffective tasers, ineffective pepper spray, and – at one point – an attempt to hit Shand with a police car, dubbed a “mild vehicle takedown” in the report.

The report heavily criticized the use of a flashbang grenade, thrown by Hyattsville Police private first-class Scott Hall, to attempt to disorient Shand seconds before police opened fire. According to the report, the use of the flashbang was inconsistent with the purpose of the device and was done spontaneously “without planning, signal or notification to any of the officers.” The report concluded the flashbang “was an aggressive action that condensed time and may have instigated or hurried” Shand’s final fatal lunge toward police.

“The logic and purpose for deploying the flashbang grende is unclear and it clearly did not produce a positive outcome,” reads the report.

“Clearly the officers were not or were inadequately advised and seemingly, were shocked or/and disoriented themselves from the deployment of the flashbang grenade,” reads the report. “This might explain why so many officers fired simultaneously.”

Despite the apparent confusion of the incident, the report ultimately concluded that police were justified when they opened fire on Shand because he was armed as he approached police.

“The deployment of the flashbang grenade had no impact on the finding that the shooting of…Shand was objectively reasonable and consistent with accepted standards of police practices,” reads the report. “The deployment of deadly force by officers was justified as their lives or the lives of other officers were in imment threat of death or serious bodily harm.”

Powers’ report made several recommendations. First, it pushed for more thorough training around the proper use of flashbang grenades. It went on to recommend more inter-agency training for Prince George’s County police departments to prepare for incidents where multiple police agencies respond. It went on to suggest Prince George’s County establish a public safety “fusion center” to enhance inter-departmental coordination.

Hyattsville city officials said Friday they would be conducting their own administrative investigation into the incident. Additionally, the city plans to hold a town hall for Hyattsville residents to discuss the incident and the policy recommendations that came out of it.

“After nearly a year of waiting, we have reached just one decision point in a series that will impact the lives of many,” said Hyattsville Mayor Candace Hollingsworth. “As we move forward, we will continue to provide the city’s employees the process afforded to them while giving the community the transparency it expects.”

Editor’s note: Route 1 Reporter is – normally – a subscriber-supported local news website. In the interest of the public discourse, this article is available for free. If you like the reporting, please support Route 1 Reporter on Patreon.

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