DC Police Commander Jason Bagshaw shot dead a gunman on the wharf

The DC police officer who authorities said fatally shot a man along the city’s busy waterfront on Saturday night is a newly promoted commander who was off duty and was leaving dinner at a restaurant when he saw a man who pointed a gun, four officials familiar with the investigation said.

Those officers said Cmdr. Jason Bagshaw, a 20-year veteran who became a recognizable and sometimes controversial presence at demonstrations across the city for the past three years, ordering the man to drop the gun and firing at least twice when the man failed to comply.

The officers, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said police are investigating the possibility Bagshaw may have interrupted an armed robbery. According to police and a video showing the aftermath of the shooting, Bagshaw was not in uniform at the time.

The shooting, which took place just after 9 p.m. at the 800 block of Wharf Street SW, had people taking cover at a number of restaurants and clubs in one of the district’s newly coined and upscale nightlife areas known as The Wharf. Amid a spike in homicides and just a month after a 15-year-old was fatally shot during an event on U Street, the incident renewed safety fears for some in the city, particularly in popular social centres.

Police did not officially identify Bagshaw on Sunday; DC law allows them five business days to identify officers involved in serious incidents of violence and release video from their body-worn cameras.

Police identified the man killed as Lazarus David Wilson, 23, of Dumfries, Virginia. Police said he came to the wharf with another Virginia man and got into a confrontation with a group of young men from the district. A relative of Wilson’s said she would give a reporter’s contact information to the man’s mother; Attempts to reach others have not been successful. Police said a man with the DC group was hit by a bullet.

Three officials familiar with the investigation said a person involved told police the dispute involved the sale of watches, but those officials warned the report could not be confirmed. Two of the officers said police found a bag containing $30,000 on the deceased.

Police said they are trying to clarify what happened. Officials said it appears Wilson and the other man met with the men from the district and some sort of argument or altercation ensued as they walked along the embankment.

DC Police Chief Robert J. Contee III said video from a surveillance camera shows “an armed person pointing a gun.” In a statement released Sunday, police said Bagshaw and the other officer – who officers later identified as Bagshaw’s wife – “gave the order for the suspect to drop the firearm and the suspect disobeyed.” It was not immediately clear if Wilson was pointing the gun at officers. Nor could it be ascertained whether Bagshaw identified himself as an officer.

In this case, no criminal charges were filed.

Like all DC police officers involved in a shooting, Bagshaw has been placed on administrative leave, authorities said. He was promoted in April to lead the Special Operations Division, which oversees tactical officers, civil unrest units, homeland security, traffic safety and special events, including planning and conducting large-scale demonstrations.

He has received numerous awards from the department. But he has also been singled out by activist groups who have questioned his conduct at demonstrations, particularly racial justice demonstrations following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd. Bagshaw can be seen in many videos engaging and confronting protesters.

Efforts to reach Bagshaw by phone on Sunday were unsuccessful, and he did not respond to an email sent to his department account. A police spokesman confirmed Bagshaw received the news and said he did not wish to speak publicly.

DC police released a statement Sunday that included a photo of a semi-automatic pistol they said Wilson had been holding, along with an image they showed Wilson holding the gun in his outstretched hand held.

Bagshaw was not wearing a body camera. Police said they are reviewing videos of responding officers and surveillance cameras.

Videos posted to social media showed a frantic gathering of police officers as bystanders jumped to get out of the way. Some expressed concern about safety on social media.

Charles Allen (D), a member of the DC Council who represents Ward 6, which includes the waterfront, noted shootings in other prominent areas outside of Washington, including shootings last month at a Tysons Corner mall and a recent deadly shooting in the Close to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and ballpark.

Allen, chair of a council committee that oversees DC police, said gun violence is a problem in cities and suburbs, driven by “easy access to guns and conflict that turns deadly in the blink of an eye.”

Allen said that “a life was lost” at the Wharf last night, and “this is a tragedy”. But. He said: “I would take my family to the Wharf tomorrow to enjoy the water and the restaurants. I am confident to do that.”

Harriet’s Wildest Dreams, a black women-led racial justice group, posted a video on Instagram showing the immediate aftermath of the shooting. Video shows a man in dark pants and a white shirt on his knees, hands up, as a uniformed officer approaches.

On the video, a man can be heard saying, “I just saw someone die.”

Nee Nee Taylor, the co-conductor of Harriet’s wildest dreams, said the man who took the video and allegedly saw the shooting did not want to be identified. Police officials confirmed the video shows Bagshaw after he shot Wilson.

A video also shows a woman on top of another man; Police officials said it was Bagshaw’s wife, who they said assaulted one of those involved in the incident.

The group Harriet’s Wildest Dreams on Instagram demanded that any video of the shooting be released immediately. “Accountability is critical in relation to this police killing,” the Instagram post read.

DC police shot four people this year and killed two of them. Also, a US Secret Service agent fatally shot another man, and a Metro Transit officer shot and wounded a man.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2022/07/17/dc-police-commander-wharf-shooting/ DC Police Commander Jason Bagshaw shot dead a gunman on the wharf

Dustin Huang

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