No charges for officers who killed Leonard Shand

Upper Marlboro – A Prince George’s County grand jury has declined to indict any of the police officers who killed Leonard Shand after a half-hour standoff in Hyattsville last year. The announcement was made by Prince George’s County States Attorney Aisha Braveboy during a Sept. 10, 2020, news conference. A report on the incident prepared by an outside use-of-force expert, Baltimore resident and former FBI agent Tyrone Powers, came to the conclusion that Shand’s killing was ultimately justified because he posed a potentially lethal threat to officers. But Powers said the report made several critiques of the police response on the day Shand was killed.

After protest, Hyattsville official says Shand killing ‘consistent’ with police policy

Protesting the re-instatement of six city police officers who shot and killed Leonard Shand in September 2019, police reform activists staged a drive-in demonstration in front of Hyattsville’s City Administration Building on Gallatin Street May 4, 2020. The event later prompted Hyattsville City Administrator Tracey Dougals to reveal city officials reviewed the events surrounding Shand’s death and found no violations of internal policies. 

“Preliminarily, the [city police] command staff conducted an executive review of the unfortunate death of Mr. Shand and determined that the actions were consistent with departmental policy,” said Douglas during Hyattsville’s May 4, 2020 City Council meeting. “While I know that is of little comfort to the Shand family and friends, the chief made the decision to ensure that the residents had uninterrupted law enforcement services.”

Douglas also said the city has begun to research new technology and equipment that could be used when “non-lethal equipment is not as effective.” The comment is notable because, according to narratives put-forth by county and local police officials, Shand was shot after police tried several times to tase him early in the encounter, all unsuccessful. 

“We are awaiting the results of the investigation to glean any knowledge or insight from that, but also in conducting our executive review we did look at the type of equipment that we did use and the type of equipment that we could potentially use in the future,” said Awad, following up on Douglas’ comments. The drive-in demonstration was organized by the group Community Justice, which has accused Prince George’s County law enforcement agencies of systematically aggressive policing of minorities and the poor. 

Route 1 Reporter did not witness the event in person, but watched live-streamed videos from activists on the scene as they blocked entrances to the parking lot, honked horns, chanted slogans and made brief speeches excoriating city officials for their decision to re-instate the officers. Hyattsville officials announced mid-April six unnamed officers would be re-instated from administrative duty to full-time active duty to shore-up patrol staffing on the city police force during the coronavirus pandemic.

Chillum fire now homicide scene; Two die in Seat Pleasant fire

Update; April 15, 2020: Police say they are investigating the Highview Terrace fire as an arson. Police believe the victim, 23-year-old Washington, D.C., resident Zena Nichols was fatally shot by 42-year-old Jerome Harris, who lived at Highview Terrace. Police believe Harris set the fire after killing Nichols. Harris is at large, and has been charged with first-degree murder. Original Story

Two fires in Prince George’s County claimed three lives over the weekend.

Transparency? Hyattsville refuses to talk tasers with Route 1 Reporter

Last year, Leonard Shand was killed in a hail of gunfire by police in Hyattsville after a 30-minute walking standoff. That day, before the shooting, police tried unsuccessfully to tase Shand three times. That aspect of the events leading up to Shand’s death led Route 1 Reporter to file a Public Information Act request with city officials seeking documents quantifying and detailing all taser misfires between January 2010 and December 2018. Earlier this week, after paying $480 in fees (thank you subscribers), Hyattsville officials turned over dozens of pages of use-of-force reports and technical reports filed by city police officers. 

Now, Hyattsville officials say they decline to speak with Route 1 Reporter about the contents of those documents. That should be troubling for government transparency advocates and police reform activists looking for the city to make good on its “commitment to transparency”. 

Already, Hyattsville city officials have been selective with their disclosures about the incident in a cynical attempt to manage public relations.

Prince George’s new fire chief breaks glass ceiling

Prince George’s County’s 13th fire chief is Tiffany Green, the first woman to hold the position. Green was sworn in Tuesday at a ceremony in Upper Marlboro, fetted by county officials including County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. 

Green is a 21-year veteran of the Prince George’s County Fire and EMS Department. She succeeds Benjamin Barksdale, who retired in 2019. 

“When I started in this department in 1999, the concept of a female fire chief was unheard of,” said Green during remarks after her swearing in. “I am honored to be your fire chief. I have sat where you are.

Mount Rainier says pit bull ban is ‘lowest law-enforcement priority’

Mount Rainier City Council approved a measure declaring county laws banning pit bulls to be the ‘lowest law-enforcement priority’ for its city police officers. The measure, approved by a vote of four-to-one at Mount Rainier’s Jan. 14, 2020, meeting, instructs the police department to “deprioritize, to the greatest extent possible” enforcement of the pit bull ban. The measure is the brainchild of freshman City Councilor Scott Cecil, who introduced the resolution in late 2019. He said the measure does not prohibit city police from taking action against an individual harboring a pit bull if a situation warranted such a citation.

Hyattsville won’t share video from fatal police shooting

Hyattsville officials now say they cannot yet share with Mount Rainier officials body camera footage its officers recorded during the events that led to the fatal 2019 police shooting of Leonard Shand. 

In a statement read during Hyattsville’s Jan. 21, 2020, City Council meeting, City Administrator Tracey Douglas said she had been advised against releasing additional information on the incident until after Prince George’s County police completed its investigation into the shooting. Douglas’ statement was a response to a Jan. 6, 2020, request from Mount Rainier City Councilor Scott Cecil to see video from Hyattsville police officers on the scene of Shand’s death. Shand, 49, died after 11 officers, including six from Hyattsville, opened fire him at the end of a half-hour early-morning walking standoff that started Sept.