A Prince George’s County grand jury has decided not to indict a police officer responsible for shooting a Black Nottingham, Maryland, man in the back in April 2016. The victim, 20-year-old Rashawn Curbeam, survived the shooting and plans to pursue legal action.
Back in April, Laurel Police officers were alerted to a suspected robbery at an Indus Food International Market in Prince George’s County, Maryland. As officers surveyed the scene, they encountered a 15-year-old teen, who they tased and put in handcuffs.
Four police officers then moved further into the property and found another male — Curbeam — hiding behind a door. In the newly released body-camera footage obtained by WUSA 9 News, one of the four officers switches his flashlight and gun in his hands, then goes to the door and tries to open it. When he finally opens the door, his weapon immediately fires. After the gunshot, the officer goes to Curbeam to administer first aid to the wound in his back.
According to WUSA 9 News, the Laurel Police Department initially called the shooting “unintentional.” They reported that the 17-year veteran SWAT team member and firearms instructor was startled before he fired his weapon.
Curbeam’s attorney, Patrick Preller, released a statement dismissing that claim.
“First, this was not a police-justified shooting. Mr. Curbeam was unarmed, shot in the back and not posing a threat to the officer when he was shot down,” Preller said. “We believe the video speaks for itself, and while we understand the Laurel Police Department deems this tragedy an accident, we disagree and believe the video shows otherwise.
“Police officers are in a unique position of power and authority in our communities and as such, they have a responsibility to be transparent and accountable for their actions. They are specifically trained to only use deadly force when necessary.”
Curbeam is expected to appear in court to face burglary charges in connection with the case in early December.