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Toxicology report rules out drugs in Marcus-David Peters’ death, family says

Ronald E. Carrington | 8/9/2018, 6 a.m.
A local activist coalition and a victim’s family continue to question the details of the fatal shooting of 24-year-old Marcus-David ...
Princess Blanding, the sister of shooting victim Marcus-David Peters, confronts Mayor Levar M. Stoney at a July 26 community meeting about the death of her brother, who was shot by a Richmond Police officer on May 16. Photo by Regina H. Boone Richmond Free Press

A local activist coalition and a victim’s family continue to question the details of the fatal shooting of 24-year-old Marcus-David Peters by a Richmond Police officer in May.

Mr. Peters’ sister, Princess Blanding, and the Justice and Reform for Marcus Peters Coalition challenged the accuracy and transparency of the Richmond Police Department’s report on the fatal shooting by Officer Michael Nyantakyi at Mayor Levar M. Stoney’s Third District community meeting July 31.

According to Ms. Blanding, the Peters family received from the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner a toxicology report and the autopsy report of the 2016 honors graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University.

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Members of the Southside Chapter of the New Virginia Majority call for Richmond Police transparency and accountability during a community march Monday night across the Mayo Bridge.

Ms. Blanding said the toxicology report, which ran more than 30 drug detention tests, ruled out the presence of multiple substances. She said it was obvious that Mr. Peters was experiencing a psychotic breakdown and mental health crisis on May 16, the date of the shooting.

Ms. Blanding believes Officer Nyantakyi used unwarranted excessive force in dealing with Mr. Peters at the time of the shooting. She said her brother, who was naked and unarmed during the encounter, was in mental distress.

Mr. Peters died the day after the shooting at a local hospital.

“The RPD, who answers to the mayor, had no idea and definitely didn’t anticipate that Marcus would have a family that would continue to fight for him and not back down,” Ms. Blanding said.

According to Ms. Blanding, the medical examiner’s report also revealed that there were three bullet wounds to Mr. Peters’ body.

RPD only reported two shots to the abdomen. A third wound to Mr. Peters’ left arm was never reported or told to the family by Chief Alfred Durham, she said.

“When I look at the angle the autopsy report provided, it leads me to believe that there was a third shot. Whose shot was it and where did it come from?” Ms. Blanding asked.

“There are huge questions surrounding the third gunshot wound in his arm. There has been zero clarification.”

Ms. Blanding also wants to know why the police body cam footage stops when a Virginia State trooper tells Officer Nyantakyi after the shooting to put his gun away and go back to his police car.

According to Ms. Blanding, the RPD video has evidence and reference points showing where the officer started, where the police car is and where the shooting occurs. There are many inconsistencies, she said.

“At the end of the day, the report confirms that there were three bullet wounds and the RPD needs to put the truth out,” Ms. Blanding said.

According to the police report, Mr. Peters hit three cars, led police on a short pursuit, then got out of his car naked and danced and rolled on the ground on Interstate 95 at the northbound entrance ramp from Chamberlayne Avenue before charging at Officer Nyantakyi.

On July 23, the RPD turned over its report on the investigation of the fatal shooting to Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael N. Herring. The report by the department’s Force Investigation Team includes video from the officer’s body camera, witness statements, security camera video and forensic evidence.

It is now up to the commonwealth’s attorney to determine whether Officer Nyantakyi will be charged criminally or whether his actions in shooting the high school biology teacher were justified.

Chief Durham said the department will host a community discussion about police training in defensive tactics, use of force and crisis intervention once Mr. Herring’s review is complete.

No time or date has been set for the community meeting.

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