Last Friday I posted an event “Rally and March for Raphael Briscoe.” Having very little information about Raphael Briscoe, I did a quick Google search and proceeded to cross-post the first article I found which was from Homicide Watch DC. The article stated that Raphael was the third person killed by police in 2011. The other two were reportedly killed after a shoot-out with police following a botched robbery attempt. The article said nothing about how or why Raphael was killed by the police. Today, I did a little more research. Here’s what I found.
WJLA did report the story the day of the shooting. Below is the video they posted on their website. It’s worth watching, not for the information about Raphael Briscoe, but for all of the information that’s left out.
If the above video isn’t working CLICK HERE to watch the video on WJLA’s site.
According to the WJLA report, Briscoe had a gun. In fact, he had a BB gun, which is not quite the same as a regular gun that fires lead bullets at 2,500 feet per second. They also failed to report that Briscoe was shot in the back in the act of running from the police. To their credit, WJLA did report on their website a follow-up report with more details, but I couldn’t find any evidence that this report ever made it to television.
WASHINGTON, DC (WJLA), April 26, 2011 –Police Chief Cathy Lanier said officers with the Gun Recovery Unit confronted an adult male with a gun. An officer or officers fired on the suspect after the situation escalated. The suspect was struck at least once.
The suspect was identified as 18-year-old Rafael Briscoe of Southeast.
Lanier on Wednesday said the weapon the suspect pulled out was a BB gun. She said she has seen the gun and there was no way, under similar circumstances, that officers could have known it wasn’t a real gun.
The officer involved in the shooting has been placed on leave.
Witnesses said the shooting episode started in the Forrest Ridge Apartment complex. They described the victim as a “good kid.”
WUSA did a far better job, reporting not only that the gun wasn’t real, but also that Briscoe was shot after running from the police. In reality, he was running from an unmarked police car full of heavily-armed white men with guns.
WUSA’s website report had even more details …
WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA), April 27, 2011 — A day after an 18-year old man was killed by police in a Southeast DC neighborhood residents there continue to demand answers.
DC Police confirm a plain clothes officer shot and killed 18-year old Rafael Briscoe after he ran from them along the 2400 block of Elvans Rd., Southeast, Tuesday afternoon. The officer was part of an undercover detail known as the Gun Recovery Unit, a group of officers tasked with taking guns off the streets. Investigators say a BB gun resembling a real handgun was found on Briscoe.
The shooting has sparked outrage among community members who held a vigil for Briscoe Wednesday evening. Neighbors who live in the area are now turning their frustration at the police, claiming Briscoe was shot in the back and never threatened the officer.
Cherie Smith, Briscoe’s grandmother, said, “The police senselessly shot and killed my grandson, and they are making up all kinds of excuses for them doing it.”
DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier will only say the incident is under a full investigation. On Wednesday she said, “In any instance when we have use of force, especially deadly force that’s a serious matter and we’ll make sure that it’s handled properly.”
The events of the shooting were captured by a police surveillance camera along Elvans Rd. 9NEWS NOW has officially requested a copy of the surveillance video from DC Police.
It took four years and a lawsuit by the ACLU before surveillance video of the incident would materialize. WNBC reports on the case as it has developed after the policeman who killed Raphael Briscoe was cleared of all charges.
As is not uncommon, the text-based version of the story on WNBC’s website had more, and perhaps more incendiary details. Including, the knowledge that Raphael did not turn towards the car that was following him in the surveillance video, which calls into question reports that he brandished the offending bb gun at the police who pursued him.
WASHINGTON, DC (WNBC), February 23, 2015 –A jury cleared Metropolitan Police Department officers in the shooting death of a D.C. teen four years ago.
Rafael Briscoe, 18, was shot and killed in April 2011 in the 2400 block of Elvans Road SE after police say he brandished a weapon.
MPD surveillance video shows the former track star running from an unmarked D.C. police car filled with officers. Lawyers for the police department said the teen was seen carrying a gun, while Briscoe’s family lawyer, Billy Ponds, said what police are interpreting as a weapon is simply his finger and his cell phone.
Neither side disputes a single, fatal shot was then fired from the unmarked police car, but Ponds said a BB gun was thrown from the car toward Briscoe’s body. Still images taken from the crime scene show the gun broken in two pieces.
“[The video] did not depict Rafael turning toward the [car]. I’m astounded and ashamed by the outcome in the case,” Ponds said.
Briscoe’s mother Bridzette Lane Friday vowed to keep fighting to defend her son.
“Looking at the video, it was a drive-by on him,” Lane said. “So I’m just angry. I’m very, very angry. I’m not going to stop until justice is served for my son.”
The American Civil Liberties Union is using Briscoe’s death to call for an end to MPD’s long-used anti-crime tactic known as “jump out squads.” Monica Hopkins-Maxwell, the head of D.C.’s ACLU, told News4 the unmarked cars police use in similar cases should be clearly marked.
D.C. police released the following statement Friday afternoon:
“Plain clothes and undercover police operations are used by MPD for multiple purposes such as investigating robberies, burglaries, drug, prostitution, and gun offenses. They are not targeted at any particular community, but are used to address crime problems and citizen complaints.”
The D.C. Attorney General’s Office is preparing a statement.
WNBC’s television report is far more complete than the stories produced by WJLA or WUSA back in 2011, but even this report leaves out an important perspective–that of the part of the community that’s organizing against the police jump outs that killed Raphael Briscoe. To get that side of the story, we turn to the DC Independent Media Center.
DC Ferguson marches on 7th District police station
On the 22nd of February, DC Ferguson met at the Congress Heights Metro in Anacostia and marched on the 7th District police station. Protesters were demanding justice for Ralphael Briscoe, who was shot in the back by a police “jump-out” squad back in 2011 without having even been suspected of having committed a crime. The shooting was described by one speaker as being a “drive-by.” As usual, the police involved in this murder have been cleared of all charges and returned to duty. DC Ferguson is demanding that these murderers be punished and that police jump-out tactics be ended in DC forever.
Video recently emerged of the Ralphael Briscoe shooting and has been cited as proof that police jump-outs exist in DC. At first MPD tried to claim to have discontinued the use of jump-outs 15 years ago, now they try to claim this is only the “vice squad” in the face of flat out proof that jump-out tactics are in use. One speaker asked “if jump-outs don’t exist, how come everyone in DC’s African-American neighborhoods knows exactly what they are?”