Police send Peters shooting report to commonwealth’s attorney

Ronald E. Carrington | 7/26/2018, 6 a.m.
The Richmond Police Department has turned over its report on the investigation of the fatal shooting of Marcus-David Peters to ...

The Richmond Police Department has turned over its report on the investigation of the fatal shooting of Marcus-David Peters to the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.

Now it’s up to Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael N. Herring to determine whether Officer Michael Nyantakyi will be charged criminally or whether his actions in shooting the high school biology teacher were justified.

Police officials said the report by the department’s Force Investigation Team was submitted on Monday and includes video from the officer’s body camera, witness statements, security camera videos and forensic evidence.

Mr. Peters, 24, was naked and unarmed when he was shot by Officer Nyantakyi on May 14 after crashing his car into a stand of trees on the Chamberlayne Avenue entrance ramp to Interstate 95 in Downtown.

Mr. Peters died the next day at a local hospital.

His sister, Princess Blanding, said Mr. Peters was undergoing a mental health crisis at the time and question whether unwarranted excessive force was used in dealing with Mr. Peters. She has organized several rallies and marches in the city since his death and spoke at a Richmond City Council meeting, calling for reform of police policies and better training for officers to identify and deal with people experiencing a mental health crisis.

A spokesperson for the state Medical Examiner’s Office said Wednesday that Mr. Peters’ cause of death was gunshot wounds to the abdomen “and the manner of death is homicide.”

But the office declined to release any additional information, including toxicology reports, saying they are considered health records that are subject to privacy rules.

A 2016 honors graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University, Mr. Peters lived in Henrico County and taught at Essex High School in Tappahannock. He also worked part time in security at The Jefferson Hotel in Downtown, where video released by police shortly after the shooting showed him driving up on May 14, taking his shirt off in the lobby before talking with a co-worker and then running to his car naked and driving off.

According to police, Mr. Peters struck three cars and led police on a short pursuit before crashing on the interstate on-ramp. Video from Officer Nyantakyi’s body cam, which police released in May, showed Mr. Peters climbing feet first through the car’s window and then dancing and rolling around on the interstate, where he was sideswiped by a car. He then charged at Officer Nyantakyi, who, after issuing a warning, shot his Taser. But it was ineffective when only one of the prongs hit Mr. Peters.

Officer Nyantakyi then shot Mr. Peters twice in the abdomen with his service weapon.

The officer has been on administrative leave since then.

Police Chief Alfred Durham said in a statement Monday that he will host a community discussion about the department’s 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.

“I made a promise to the community that, once this process is finished, I would explain how and why we train our officers,” Chief Durham stated. “I invite anyone who wants to learn more about that training to attend.”

He said prior to the meeting documents will be posted online, including the department’s general orders covering use of force and crisis intervention training.