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Judicial Watch Obtains Body Cam Footage Detailing Scene of Fatal Police Shooting of Duncan Lemp

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(Washington, DC) Judicial Watch announced today it obtained three videos of body cam footagefrom the Montgomery County, MD, Police Department (MCPD) detailing the scene of the fatal shooting of Duncan Socrates Lemp earlier in 2020. The videos show the covered body of Mr. Lemp; detained individuals in the house; and various weapons found at the scene. Judicial Watch blurred images of occupants of the house who appear in the video to protect their privacy.

According to the Montgomery County attorney who emailed the footage to Judicial Watch, “These videos comprise the totality of any body worn camera footage in existence from this event.” 

Judicial Watch obtained the footage in response to a Public Information Act lawsuit against MCPD for all body-worn camera videos relating to the raid on, and resulting death of Duncan Lemp

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(Judicial Watch v. Montgomery County Police Department (No. V482964)). 

The video shows a gun propped up at the head on the bed of the room in which Mr. Lemp’s body is lying covered. An officer states off camera “that was the weapon that he (Lemp) had that was underneath him at the door leading into the rest of the main house. It got moved as medical treatment was being done on him.”  The officer also states, “He (Lemp) was blocking the door with the gun directly underneath him as we were trying to come through that (same) door.” (Lemp had fallen against the door after being shot through his bedroom window by another officer after Lemp allegedly raised and pointed the weapon at the officer.)

In the video, the same officer also points out a shotgun shell rigged with a tripwire to fire in the face of anyone who opened the door. The video also details several other guns, including a handgun and other weapons hanging on a wall, under a couch and in a closet.

The Maryland SWAT officer who killed Lemp was cleared of any wrongdoing in December 2020. A prosecutors’ report concluded:

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[T]he actions of the shooting officer on March 12, 2020 were reasonable under the circumstances. The threat caused by Duncan Lemp retrieving a rifle and pointing it at the officer, coupled with Lemp’s apparent refusal to obey lawful commands, justified the shooting officer’s use of deadly force.

The report also stated:

Once the house was secured, it appears that a police officer, using body worn camera equipment, entered the house and went from room to room in order to document the scene. Investigators determined that very little evidentiary value could be obtained from this recording as it was conducted after the raid was over.

“It shouldn’t have taken a lawsuit and nine months to get these limited videos of the aftermath of the shooting death of Duncan Lemp,” state Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch President. “The videos may raise additional questions for the public while settling others.”

In the early morning hours of March 12, 2020, 21-year-old Duncan Socrates Lemp, a student and software developer, was shot and killed by police in his Potomac, Maryland home during the execution of a “no-knock” search warrant. 

Lemp’s family reportedly said that Lemp and his family were asleep “when police besieged the residence from the front of the house” and the family was “awakened by shots fired through Duncan’s bedroom window followed by the sound of flash bangs.” According to the family’s attorney, an eyewitness said Lemp was asleep in his bedroom when police opened fire from outside the house.

Police disputed that account. The MCPD said in a March 2020 statement that SWAT team officers were acting on an anonymous tip that Lemp was in possession of firearms that he was prohibited from having “due to his criminal history as a juvenile.” 

The MCPD maintains that, upon making contact with Lemp, officers identified themselves as the police and gave Lemp multiple orders to show his hands and comply with the officer’s commands to get on the ground. It also reportedly maintains that Lemp refused to comply with the officer’s commands and proceeded towards an interior bedroom door where other officers were located. 

The MCPD statement said Lemp was out of bed and standing “directly in front of the interior bedroom door” holding a rifle “he slept with” each night as officers “made entry into the bedroom.”

According to the Lemp family attorneys, SWAT officers shot Lemp multiple times. They also reported that an eyewitness “told investigators that police never made verbal commands upon either her or Duncan until after Duncan was shot and lay bleeding on the floor. Multiple eyewitnesses told investigators that the police only forced entry into the home after Duncan was shot. According to those eyewitnesses, the police had no contact with any family members until after Duncan was shot.”

The prosecutor’s report concluded that Lemp ignored orders to “don’t move” or “don’t do it” in pointing a weapon at the officer outside his bedroom window and that the officer, in fear for his life, shot Lemp after other SWAT officers had entered the home.

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