Critics Say Naked Teacher Gunned Down by Virginia Police Was Likely ‘Experiencing a Mental Health Crisis’

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The man shot and killed by Richmond police along Interstate 95 on Monday was a local high school teacher who graduated with honors from Virginia Commonwealth University, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

Marcus Peters, 24, was fatally shot by police after officers said he charged at them. Peters reportedly struck three vehicles, led officers on a brief pursuit and danced and rolled naked on the busy Interstate, Richmond Police Department officials said.

“That was not my son,” the victim’s mother, Barbara Peters said. “ … This is just so out of character. Something went terribly wrong.”

Peters was reportedly driving a sedan around 5:30 p.m. when he struck another vehicle and kept driving. An RPD officer followed in pursuit after witnessing the crash, Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Police said Peters hit two other vehicles on an interstate ramp before losing control of his own car. That’s when the science teacher emerged from his car naked and ran off into the northbound lanes.

Witnesses recalled seeing a man dancing and rolling around on the highway before running onto the on-ramp, according to the newspaper.

Richmond police said Peters then charged at one of its officers, who discharged his Taser at the naked man in an effort to take him down. The stun gun was ineffective, however, so the cop fired his service weapon, hitting Peters. He was unarmed.

The VCU grad was rushed to a hospital where here succumbed to his injuries just after midnight.

According to Peters’ family, the victim graduated summa cum laude from Middlesex High School in 2011 before attending VCU, where he graduated with a biology degree and cum laude honors in 2016. Peters also minored in chemistry, psychology and Spanish.

“His pursuit for a career as a trauma surgeon would unknowingly take a detour as he discovered his passion for education,” his family said in a statement.

Peters taught science and life skill classes at Essex High School before his death, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The officer who shot Peters, a 10-year veteran of the force, has since been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into the incident. The department said the officer’s name will be released once a risk assessment is completed. Body cam footage of the shooting will also be reviewed.

“Our officers do not take the use of deadly force lightly,” police Chief Alfred Durham said in a statement. “I think it’s important to remember that being naked does not remove a threat.”

Critics took to Twitter to weigh in on the latest shooting of yet another unarmed Black man.

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