This commentary is simply my opinion of what took place in this video, based on over 12 years of training and experience as a police officer in Dallas, Texas. This commentary is in no way affiliated with the Dallas Police Department or the Richmond, Virginia Police Department.
On May 14, 2018, the incident began at a hotel which isn’t shown in this video. I edited the video for brevity and to show the actual interaction that took place leading up to the shooting and after the shooting. According to reports, the individual, Marcus Peters, drove to a hotel where he worked part time as security. Hotel surveillance video showed Peters arrive to the hotel and eventually left the hotel naked and drove off.
All of this was not known to the police officer, Richmond PD, Officer Nyantakyi. Officer Nyantakyi only observed Mr. Peters driving erratically where he allegedly hit a vehicle and did not stop. As such, officer Nyantakyi pursued Mr. Peters until he crashed. This is where the video above starts.
The officer gets on the radio and tells dispatch the driver appears to be mentally unstable. It’s clear by the drivers’ actions he is upset, or something is terribly wrong. Most officers at this point would likely believe the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, simply based on their training and past experiences. Due to the fact the person is not in their right mind and not simply exiting the vehicle and complying with commands, the officer has his gun drawn. Again, Mr. Peters didn’t stop after causing an accident, for all the officer knows at this point, the driver is fleeing for any number of reasons.
Eventually, Mr. Peters exits his car and runs into the highway where a vehicle hits him. Mr. Peters seems unaffected as he rolls around on the highway for a short period of time. Once again, the officer is patient and waits for cover. The officer didn’t rush Mr. Peters and attempt to arrest him or escalate the situation, he waited. I think this was smart being he was still alone.
Mr. Peters suddenly jumps up and notices the officer. Mr. Peters has enough awareness to recognize that the officer is holding a taser and says something to the effect of, “Drop that taser or I’ll kill you!” Mr. Peters is walking at the officer aggressively and is obviously ready to fight.
The officer deploys his taser and pulls the trigger. It seems to have little or no effect on Mr. Peters. Something that is far more common than most people realize. Mr. Peters rushes at the officer and a struggle ensues. The officer attempts to fight him off and realizes the taser is not working. Police officers are trained to escalate force as necessary. Meaning, if you use a baton and it doesn’t work, you move up the force continuum to a taser. If the taser has no effect, unfortunately the next step is deadly force.
I certainly understand why shooting a naked man who clearly doesn’t have a weapon may seem unnecessary. And in most instances, you’d be right in that assessment. This situation illustrates how violent and unaffected by pain people can be when they are under the influence of drugs. Or a combination of drugs. In this instance, the toxicology later revealed Mr. Peters had a mixture of marijuana and Ritalin in his system. Not what I would have first guessed. Based on what I saw in the video, I would have suspected PCP. Mainly because most people I’ve seen high on PCP exert the symptoms Mr. Peters did. They are naked because they are overheating due to the PCP. They feel no pain. And I mean no pain at all. I’d seen people high on PCP hitting other people with an arm clearly broken in two.
Eventually, the officer made the decision, as he was retreatingm to shoot Mr. Peters twice. The officer didn’t shoot multiple times and go completely overboard. The officer shot to end the threat. The officer never escalated the situation by crowding Mr. Peters or trying to be a superhero and arrest him while alone. The officer was patient and was waiting for backup. Unfortunately, they came just a little too late. The officer’s reaction after the shots were fired clearly illustrates, he wasn’t happy he was forced to shoot Mr. Peters. He’s angry that it happened and likely in shock and disbelief. I can assure you he immediately was worried about whether he just made the wrong decision and if he was going to be fired, or worse, sent to prison.
In the end, this is a tragedy. There’s no other way to describe it. Mr. Peters didn’t deserve to die that day. But nor did Officer Nyantakyi. We don’t have the ability to know what Mr. Peters would have done to Officer Nyantakyi should he have taken the taser away from him. We don’t know what kind of fighter Mr. Peters was and if he had the ability to take Officer Nyantakyi to the ground or knock him out and take his weapon. Maybe none of these would have happened. I do think with the behavior Mr. Peters exerted, it was abundantly clear he wasn’t in his right mind and needed help or detox or both.
Unfortunately, it ended with Mr. Peters losing his life and Officers Nyantakyi’s being altered forever as well. Nothing Officer Nyantakyi did caused this to happen. He didn’t make Mr. Peters get in the car and drive. He didn’t cause Mr. Peters to take the mixture of marijuana and Ritalin that very well made him act the way he did. Officer Nyantakyi was presented with this bizarre set of circumstances and ended up in the worst situation an officer can be in, using deadly force. This shooting was ultimately deemed justified and charges were not brought against Officer Nyantakyi.
The Officer Next Door