RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The sister of a Virginia man who was fatally shot by police after he ran naked onto an interstate highway said Wednesday that the officer’s body-camera video shows her brother was unarmed and “clearly in distress.”
Princess Blanding said the video she watched at Richmond police headquarters shows her brother, Marcus-David Peters, was having some kind of mental health problem when the officer confronted him on May 14.
“Marcus did not deserve to be killed. He needed help,” Blanding said.
Police said Peters struck three vehicles with his car, emerged naked and ran onto Interstate 95 in Richmond during the late afternoon rush hour.
They said he then charged at an officer, who initially used his stun gun to try to subdue him, and then fired his service weapon when the electric shock proved ineffective. Peters died hours later at a hospital.
Chief Alfred Durham invited the family to view the body-cam recording as well as video from surveillance cameras in the area. Durham also has said he plans to publicly release the video, but no date has been set yet.
A police spokesman had no immediate comment on the sister’s remarks.
Blanding said her brother — a 24-year-old high school science teacher — had no known mental health issues. She said his behavior on Interstate 95 and during his encounter with police was completely out of character. He graduated with honors from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2016 and became a teacher because of his passion for education.
Blanding, who has questioned whether deadly force was necessary in her brother’s case, said viewing the video didn’t change her opinion. She said police need more training on non-lethal alternatives.
“Our officers have to be trained in different ways,” she said. “The answer can’t always be ‘I have a gun, and I’m going to go for a gun.’ “
The family’s attorney, Jonathan Halperin, said the officer can be heard on the video acknowledging that Peter was having a psychological episode. “He said, ‘we’re dealing with a mental issue’ or something like that,” Halperin said.
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