The Fairfax County Police Department will release video footage this afternoon (Friday) of a recent incident in West Falls Church where officers pointed their guns at a person who was filming them.
Police Chief Kevin Davis will host a press conference at 2:30 p.m. It was announced almost exactly one hour after the Fairfax County NAACP released a statement urging the FCPD to immediately release all body camera and vehicle dashboard camera footage related to the gun-brandishing incident and fatal shootings in Springfield and McLean.
“We are troubled and deeply concerned by what appears to be a shift to a more aggressive style of policing in Fairfax County — a style that time and time again, leads to needless deaths,” the civil rights advocacy organization said. “Calling law enforcement for assistance should not be a death sentence, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, physical or mental ability, age, or gender.”
The FCPD released an audio recording on Wednesday (July 13) with the 911 dispatch call for the West Falls Church incident, which occurred outside an IHOP on Saturday (July 9).
Video of the encounter went viral on social media, just days after an officer shot and killed 26-year-old Jasper Aaron Lynch during a mental health crisis call at a house in McLean on July 7.
One week earlier, a 37-year-old man later identified as Christian Parker from Reston died at a hospital on June 30 after a confrontation with three police officers at Springfield Town Center. Two of the officers fired their guns, killing Parker, who was wanted by police for allegedly firing a gun in his home four days earlier.
There have been four police shootings in Fairfax County so far this year, including one in Lorton on Feb. 15 and one of a man reportedly armed with a bow and arrow in Chantilly on Jan. 6.
However, based on FCPD records, Parker and Lynch were the first people killed by FCPD officers since Herndon resident Mohammad Azim Doudzai was shot in January 2017. A dog was also euthanized after being shot by an officer in July 2019, and in October 2019, a man died after an officer fired his gun during a hostage situation in Burke, but police said the fatal wound appeared to be self-inflicted.
In its statement, the Fairfax County NAACP argued that police should speed up the release of video footage, given “the magnitude” of the recent gun-related incidents and their close proximity to each other. The FCPD’s policy is to make body camera and other videos public within 30 days of a use-of-force incident.
“We have received numerous calls and written communications from Fairfax County community members expressing their concerns, and in some cases, outrage. The community deserves answers,” the NAACP said.
Internal investigations into all three incidents are ongoing. The department recently updated its press release from the Springfield shooting to name the officers who discharged their weapons, Officer First-Class Daniel Houtz and Officer Ryan Sheehan.
“PFC Houtz is an eight-year veteran of the Franconia Police District Station and OFC Sheehan is a two-year veteran of the Mount Vernon Police District Station,” the release said. “Both officers were assigned to the Summer Crime Initiative Team. The department will release body camera footage and audio recordings of the 911 call for service within 30 days or when it no longer jeopardizes the integrity of the investigation.”
In a statement released Tuesday (July 12), Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk, who chairs the county board’s public safety committee, acknowledged the growing community concerns about the “series of high-profile incidents” involving the FCPD. His office will hold a virtual town hall next Thursday (July 21) with police officials, including Chief Davis.
“As community members work to process and understand the events of the past weeks, I remain completely committed to providing the transparency required to ensure trust between our community and FCPD,” Lusk said.
Photo via FCPD/Facebook
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