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Washington, DC, Police Tell Woman on Christmas Morning That They Killed Her Son, But Son Calls Hours Later to Wish Her ‘Merry Christmas’

KarenWashingtonThe Washington, D.C., police delivered the worst possible message Karen Robinson could ever hear when they knocked on her door at 2 a.m. on Christmas morning to tell her that her son Raymond had been killed by police.

Hours later, in the midst of her grief, she got a phone call. To her amazement, it was her son Raymond, calling to wish her a merry Christmas. It’s hard to even imagine the mix of emotions that flowed through her.

“He says, ‘Merry Christmas, Mom,’ and I said, ‘Who is this?'” she told NBC News4. “He said, ‘Mom, this is Raymond.’ I said, ‘Boy, they said you died.'”

As a nation rages over the death of Black men at the hands of police, Robinson had experienced every Black mother’s worst nightmare, only to be pulled back from the brink of despair eight hours later with a simple phone call.

On Monday night, Robinson got another visit from a Washington, DC, detective. This time, he had come to apologize.

“I think they should make a positive ID on a person before they come because anything could have happened,” Karen Robinson said. “I could have had a heart attack right here on this floor.”

Raymond Washington

Raymond Washington

When the detective visited her on Christmas, she was initially skeptical of the story she was being told. The detective first asked to see a picture of her son. After she retrieved a picture and showed it to the detective, he told her that her son Raymond was dead.

“I asked them, ‘Are you sure this is my son?'” Robinson said. “And they said, ‘Yes, ma’am, we’re sure.’ …I couldn’t believe it, and then I said, ‘Well, what happened?’ and they said, ‘Well, he shot at police, and police returned fire on him.’ And I’m like, ‘No. That’s not my child.'”

The call from her son came at 10 a.m., meaning she suffered through eight excruciating hours. About 30 minutes after she talked to Raymond, the city of DC compounded the error: She got a call from the medical examiner’s office asking her to go to the morgue to identify the body.

That wasn’t necessary, Robinson told the medical examiner.

It turns out that the man the police had killed was 33-year-old Gregory Marcus Gray, who was involved in a shootout on Christmas eve at about 3 p.m. Police said officers cornered a robbery suspect off Naylor Road in southeast D.C. and when he shot at the officers, they returned fire, killing him. Police said he had robbed someone outside of a bank.

Gray’s family was properly notified.

The police department issued a statement saying “proper protocol was not followed in the identification process. The department is investigating how this occurred so that it does not happen again.”

Police got a tip at the hospital about the shooting victim’s identity and apparently did not wait for fingerprint confirmation before reaching out to Karen Robinson, according to the Associated Press. The police said the person responsible for the mistake will be held accountable.

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