A teacher from Richmond, Virginia, was fatally shot by the police even though he was unarmed.
Marcus-David L. Peters, 24, a black high school science teacher and a Virginia Commonwealth University alumnus, crashed into a vehicle at an intersection of West Franklin and North Belvidere streets Monday. Then, police said, he continued driving onto Interstate 95/64 where he hit two other vehicles before losing control of his sedan.
That’s when he reportedly exited the vehicle naked and unarmed. According to witnesses, he was seen dancing and then “rolling around” on the interstate. As he ran back to the on-ramp, officers said, Peters charged at one of them. The officer then used his Taser on the man. Seeing it had no effect on him, the officer then fired his weapon.
Peters was then transported to the hospital where he later died.
Officials have not revealed the name of the officer responsible for Peters’ death.
The police department is investigating the incident, and the officer involved in this killing has been placed on administrative leave.
“We are all deeply affected by what happened here — by the loss of life. Our officers do not take the use of deadly force lightly. I think it’s important to remember that being naked does not remove a threat,” Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham said. “So far, the eyewitness accounts we’ve heard have been consistent: our officer tried using verbal commands, then used non-lethal force first by deploying his Taser before using his service weapon.”
Barbara Peters, the victim’s mother, said that her son’s behavior before his death is unlike anything she’s ever seen.
“That was not my son,” she said. “This is just so out of character. Something went terribly wrong.”
Twitter users were distressed.
This is a damn shame. The man was NAKED. What the f*** are you carrying your baton for?? The taser had to at least have dazed him. Either he was having a mental health or a drug event but either way, lethal force was NOT required.— BlackCoffeeNoSugaNoCreme (@QueenCoffeeNoir) May 16, 2018
An unarmed , naked man suffering some sort of mental breakdown deserves to be shot ? Seriously ??— Taira (@1Taira_B) May 16, 2018
He obviously needed help if this story is true. He needed help not a bullet??— Nona's Momma (@TamRosWal) May 16, 2018
so sad..this man had a future and was killed by a cop who looked at him as a criminal and waste of human.— LivinByMyOwnRulez (@KingGetoBoy) May 16, 2018
This makes me so sad to be a Virginian today. I thought we were better than this. I have so many friends who are VCU grads... this is terrible— ??????Stephanie Jane Keller?????? (@Stefania_acting) May 16, 2018
Peters, who graduated VCU with honors, was the third-youngest of a family of 12 children. As a teacher, he taught science and a “life skills” class at Essex High School. Prior to that, he graduated summa cum laude from Middlesex High School in 2011, speaking at his graduation. During his college years, he attended VCU’s Honors College, volunteered in doctor’s offices, and worked as a resident assistant.
During his commencement address, Peters seemed to look forward to the future.
“Each and every one of you has something special to offer the world,” he reportedly said. “You have your own unique gift. We are all assets to society.”
“The trying times of life will only make us strong individuals. Nothing in this life that has value is going to come easy,” he added.
His family said that the speech was so moving that it prompted “the gymnasium to erupt in a round of applause.”
“He would often say, ‘The students just need to know that someone cares about them and need a role model to look up to,’” his family told reporters. “He tried his very best to do just that.”
It’s saddening that such an important person to his community would be treated in this way by any police department. And while the circumstances that led to the police encounter are still under investigation, nothing justifies using lethal force on a man who poses no threat.