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‘Let’s Wait to See If He Gets Startled’: Video Shows U.S. Park Police Fatally Shooting Teen In the Back 5 Times After He Fell Asleep In Vehicle

A 17-year-old father is dead after the police in Washington D.C. startled the sleeping teen awake as he slept in a running vehicle and shot him in the back of his head.

Metropolitan Police Department officers and two U.S. Park Police officers responded to a call about a suspicious vehicle parked on the street on March 18. The authorities arrived and saw Dalaneo Martin sleeping in the stolen vehicle.

Dalaneo Martin
Dalaneo Martin was shot and killed on March 18. (Photo: WUSA9News screenshot / YouTube)

Video released by the U.S. Park Police on April 4 showed two police officers climbing into the back of a white hatchback vehicle near 34th Street and Baker Street NE at around 9:30 a.m. The officers cut the plastic from one of the windows to unlock the vehicle.

“If he doesn’t get startled and he doesn’t wake up, then we’re going to try to get in there, grab him before he puts that car into gear,” said one police officer before they enter the vehicle. “If we can grab that hand, get a hold of that other one, we’re good to go. But let’s wait to see if he gets startled after I cut it, try to unlock the door. If he does, if he takes off, just let him go. But don’t get inside that car till we, you know.”

Upon entering the vehicle, the officers grabbed Martin by his hands and yelled, “Police! Don’t move!”

Martin began driving, and one of the officers fell out of the vehicle. One officer remained in the backseat and yelled for Martin to stop as the teen yelled, “Get off of me!”

The officer yelled back, “Stop, man, just let me out,” as he reached for his gun. “Let me go!”

Martin kept driving, and after the officer drew his gun, he yelled, “Stop! Stop, or I’ll shoot!”‘

One second later, the officer opened fire aiming at Martin’s head. After the officer fired his weapon at least five times and the car crashed into a nearby house, the officer yelled, “Don’t move!”

He struck Martin in his upper back near his neck. The police performed CPR on Martin, but he was declared dead on the scene.

Martin’s family is represented by Jade E. Mathis of the A. Clarke Law Group, and Mathis released a statement following the shooting.

“On March 18, 2023, another shooting death occurred in the District of Columbia. Dalaneo Martin was just 17 years old when he was brutally murdered at the hands of a Park Police Officer, leaving a five-month old child without a father,” read the statement.

“We are calling for a full investigation of the officers involved in this shooting. These officers need to be held accountable for taking another Black child from our community. Black people across the country are under attack from a policing system that criminalizes them, strips resources, and then justifies their killing.”

Martin’s family viewed the graphic body-cam footage before it was released. Martin’s mother, Terra Martin, wants the Park Police officer who shot her son in the back to be fired and prosecuted. She also wants the other officers on the scene to be publicly identified.

“Seeing the video yesterday of my son being murdered, I’m lost. Seeing their brother murdered all over national TV,” said Terra Martin. “I want the officer’s name released immediately. I want him arrested.”

Mathis described the family’s emotions while watching the video.

“Their initial reaction was tears and then it turned to anger, rightfully so,” said Mathis. “But it was also relief because they have more answers than they had before.”

“It’s unfortunate that there’s going to be another Black child who has to be raised without a father,” said community activist Nee Nee Taylor. “I think everyone involved made mistakes, but only one person, their life will be forever changed by the consequences that people made. It’s just a matter of how we police.”

The Park Police Union defended the actions of the officer. Union chairman Kenneth Spencer said that the shooting of Martin was justified.

“There is a lawful reason for him to be in the car, the use of force was justified, and the union stands behind the actions the officers took,” said Spencer.

The FBI announced on Tuesday that federal prosecutors have opened a civil rights investigation into the shooting.

“In coordination with the FBI Washington Field Office, the United States Attorney’s Office has opened a civil rights investigation into the circumstances leading to Mr. Martin’s death,” read the statement. “That investigation – which we are committed to conducting diligently and thoroughly – is ongoing.”

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