Judicial Watch announced that it has asked the Montgomery County, Maryland Circuit Court to order the release of all body camera footage from the fatal shooting of Duncan Socrates Lemp earlier this year. The request was made in a motion for summary judgment
filed by Judicial Watch in its Public Information Act (PIA) lawsuit against the Montgomery County, MD, Police Department (MCPD) (Judicial Watch v. Montgomery County Police Department
(No. V482964)). The MCPD has moved to dismiss the lawsuit, a request Judicial Watch has opposed. A hearing on both motions has been scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on December 2, 2020, in Rockville, MD.
Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit
in the circuit court for Montgomery County, Maryland after the Montgomery County Police Department failed to respond to a June 18 PIA request seeking:
- All body-worn camera videos relating to the raid on, and resulting death of, Duncan Socrates Lemp by a Montgomery County Police SWAT team on March 12, 2020 at Mr. Lemp's home in Potomac, Maryland.
Judicial Watch argues in its motion/opposition that MCPD is unlawfully withholding the body camera footage because, in part they are ignoring the public interest in the disclosure of the footage:
- Release of objective and factual video recordings of Mr. Lemp's shooting is critical to addressing and resolving conflicting reports about the killing. It also would, in Defendant's own words, "eliminate speculation and address unsubstantiated allegations of misconduct which frequently occur."
Judicial Watch also argues that MCPD's release of other footage of police-involved shootings supports the release of footage of the Lemp shooting.
In the early morning hours of March 12, 2020, 21-year-old Duncan Socrates Lemp, a student and software developer, was shot and killed by police in his Potomac, Maryland home during the execution of a "no-knock" search warrant.
Lemp's family reportedly said
that Lemp and his family were asleep "when police besieged the residence from the front of the house" and the family was "awakened by shots fired through Duncan's bedroom window followed by the sound of flash bangs." According to the family's attorney, an eyewitness said
Lemp was asleep in his bedroom when police opened fire from outside the house.
Police disputed that account. The MCPD said in a statement
that SWAT team officers were acting on an anonymous tip that Lemp was in possession of firearms that he was prohibited from having "due to his criminal history as a juvenile."
The MCPD maintains that, upon making contact with Lemp, officers identified themselves as the police and gave Lemp multiple orders to show his hands and comply with the officer's commands to get on the ground. It also reportedly maintains that Lemp refused to comply with the officer's commands and proceeded towards an interior bedroom door where other officers were located.
According to the Lemp family attorneys, SWAT officers shot Lemp multiple times. They also reported that an eyewitness "told investigators that police never made verbal commands upon either her or Duncan until after Duncan was shot and lay bleeding on the floor. Multiple eyewitnesses told investigators that the police only forced entry into the home after Duncan was shot. According to those eyewitnesses, the police had no contract with any family members until after Duncan was shot."
The MCPD statement said Lemp was out of bed and standing "directly in front of the interior bedroom door" holding a rifle "he slept with" each night as officers "made entry into the bedroom."
"It is surprising, given recent controversies, that Montgomery County would withhold bodycam footage from a police-involved shooting,"
said Judicial Watch Tom Fitton. "The unusual secrecy around the Lemp shooting, which doesn't fit the Left's narrative on police shootings, suggests that politics is at play."