By Michael Kunzelman, AP
A Maryland man was asleep in his bedroom when police opened fire from outside his house, killing him and wounding his girlfriend, an attorney for the 21-year-old man’s family said Friday.
The Montgomery County Police Department has released few details about the shooting that killed Duncan Socrates Lemp early Thursday. Rene Sandler, an attorney for Lemp’s relatives, said police could have “absolutely no justification” for shooting Lemp based on what she has heard about the circumstances.
“The facts as I understand them from eyewitnesses are incredibly concerning,” she told The Associated Press.
The warrant that police obtained to search the Potomac home Lemp shared with his parents and 19-year-old brother doesn’t mention any “imminent threat” to law enforcement or the public, Lemp’s relatives said in a statement released Friday by their lawyers. Nobody in the house that morning had a criminal record, the statement adds.
“Any attempt by the police to shift responsibility onto Duncan or his family, who were sleeping when the police fired shots into their home, is not supported by the facts,” the statement says.
A police department spokesman didn’t immediately respond to the statements by the family or their lawyer.
Sandler said the family believes police fired gunshots, not a flashbang or other projectile, from outside the home, including through Lemp’s bedroom window, while he and his girlfriend were sleeping. Nobody in the home heard any warnings or commands before police opened fire, she said.
“There is no warrant or other justification that would ever allow for that unless there is an imminent threat, which there was not,” Sandler said.
A police statement Thursday says members of the department’s tactical unit were serving a “high-risk” search warrant related to unspecified “firearms offenses” at the home around 4:30 a.m. A tactical unit officer fatally shot Lemp while police were serving the warrant.
“The facts and circumstances of the encounter are still being investigated by (police) detectives,” the department said in the statement, which provided no other details about the shooting.
The unidentified officer involved in the shooting was placed on administrative leave, a standard procedure after police shootings.
Sandler said Lemp’s grief-stricken family is traumatized. Their statement says they intend to “hold each and every person responsible for his death.”
“We believe that the body camera footage and other forensic evidence from this event will support what Duncan’s family already knows, that he was murdered,” the statement says.