Lawyer: Man killed by officer was asleep when police fired
This 2019 photo shows Duncan Lemp in Venice, Italy. Lemp was asleep in his bedroom when police opened fire from outside his house, killing him and wounding his girlfriend, an attorney for the 21-year-old mans family said Friday, March 13, 2020.
Update: August 11, 2020
Judicial Watch Sues Montgomery Co., MD, Police Dep’t for Body Cam Footage in Fatal Police Shooting of Duncan Lemp During ‘No-Knock’ Raid
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today it filed a Public Information Act (PIA) lawsuit against the Montgomery County, MD, Police Department (MCPD) seeking all body-cam videos from the fatal shooting of Duncan Socrates Lemp.
The 21-year-old 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 in the early morning hours of March 12, 2020.
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.”
Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit in the Montgomery County Circuit Court after the Montgomery County Police Department failed to respond to a June 18 PIA request (Judicial Watch v. Montgomery County Police Department (No. V482964)). Judicial Watch seeks:
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.
“Given the vastly differing accounts of what happened, the Montgomery County Police Department needs to release all body-cam footage from the SWAT team raid on and shooting of Duncan Lemp,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Withholding basic public information about a police shooting undermines public confidence in law enforcement.”
SILVER SPRING, Md. – A Maryland man who was shot and killed by a police officer was asleep in his bedroom when police opened fire from outside his house, an attorney for the 21-year-old man’s family said Friday. The man’s girlfriend was also wounded.
The Montgomery County Police Department said in a news release Friday that Duncan Socrates Lemp “confronted” police and was shot by one of the officers early Thursday. Rene Sandler, an attorney for Lemp’s relatives, said an eyewitness gave a “completely contrary” account of the shooting. She said police could have “absolutely no justification” for shooting Lemp based on what she has heard about the circumstances.
“The facts as I understand them from eyewitnesses are incredibly concerning,” she told The Associated Press.
The warrant that police obtained to search the Potomac home Lemp shared with his parents and 19-year-old brother doesn’t mention any “imminent threat” to law enforcement or the public, Lemp’s relatives said in a statement released Friday by their lawyers. Nobody in the house that morning had a criminal record, the statement adds.
“Any attempt by the police to shift responsibility onto Duncan or his family, who were sleeping when the police fired shots into their home, is not supported by the facts,” the statement says.
A police department spokesman didn’t immediately respond to the statements by the family or their lawyer.
The department’s news release on Friday says tactical unit members were serving a “high-risk” search warrant around 4:30 a.m. when one of the unit’s officers fatally shot Lemp. Police detectives recovered three rifles and two handguns from the home. Lemp was prohibited from possessing firearms, police said.
“Detectives were following up on a complaint from the public that Lemp, though prohibited, was in possession of firearms,” the release says without elaborating.
Sandler said the family believes police fired gunshots, not a flashbang or other projectile, from outside the home, including through Lemp’s bedroom window, while he and his girlfriend were sleeping. Nobody in the home heard any warnings or commands before police opened fire, she said.
“There is no warrant or other justification that would ever allow for that unless there is an imminent threat, which there was not,” Sandler said.
The police department’s news release says the “facts and circumstances of the encounter” are still under investigation. Prosecutors from neighboring Howard County will review the evidence at the conclusion of the investigation.
“An established agreement between the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office stipulates that when an officer-involved shooting involving injury or death occurs in one county, the other county’s State’s Attorney’s Office will review the event,” police said.
Lemp was Caucasian, according to Sandler. She did not know the race of the unidentified officer involved in the shooting because she said the officers were wearing masks. The officer was placed on administrative leave, a standard procedure after police shootings.
Sandler said Lemp’s grief-stricken family is traumatized. Their statement says they intend to “hold each and every person responsible for his death.”
“We believe that the body camera footage and other forensic evidence from this event will support what Duncan’s family already knows, that he was murdered,” the statement says.
Lemp worked as a software developer and was trying to raise money for a startup company, according to friends and co-workers.
“He was a talented, smart guy. Super nice. Didn’t deserve to get shot,” said Samuel Reid, whose Canadian software company employed Lemp as an independent contractor.
Tsolmondorj Natsagdorj, 24, of Fairfax, Virginia, said he met Lemp in 2016 and bonded with him over their shared interest in cryptocurrency. They also talked about politics. He described Lemp as a libertarian who frequented the 4chan and Reddit message boards, sites popular with internet trolls.
“Duncan was a young guy with a bright future as an entrepreneur,” Natsagdorj said. “He was working on things to change the world.”
On social media accounts that friends said belonged to him, Lemp’s username was “YungQuant.” On an internet forum called “My Militia,” someone who identified himself as Duncan Lemp, of Potomac, and posted under the username “yungquant” said he was “an active III%’r and looking for local members & recruits.” That’s an apparent reference to the Three Percenters, a wing of the militia movement. The group’s logo, the Roman numeral “III,” has become popular with anti-government extremists, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
On his Instagram account, Lemp recently posted a photograph that depicts two people holding up rifles and included the term “boogaloo,” slang used by militia members and other extremists to describe a future civil war in the U.S.
Friends said they never heard Lemp espouse any anti-government rhetoric. Sandler said Lemp was not a part of any anti-government or militia-type group.
“He was pro-America and supported wholeheartedly all the protections of the Constitution,” she said.
Potomac, MD–Duncan Lemp was asleep in his bed early Thursday morning when a SWAT team outside his house opened fire at their home. Lemp’s family reports that the 21-year-old was killed in his sleep, and never got out of bed. His girlfriend next to him was injured as well, but is expected to recover.
The Montgomery County Police Department had a warrant to search the home that Lemp, his parents and his younger brother lived. Police reported that they “received a citizen complaint that Lemp possessed guns even though he was prohibited from doing so.”
This prompted a Special Operations Division Tactical Unit came to Lemp’s home in the 12200 block of St. James Road. They arrived to serve the “high-risk” search warrant at 4:30 am. This type of warrant is often called a ‘no-knock raid’ as officers are not required to knock or announce themselves.
Lemp’s family lawyer, Renee Sandler, met with the press before the Police held their press conference on Friday and she expressed grave concern about what Lemp’s family claims was basically murder. Sandler said that there is “absolutely no justification” for what happened. She went on to say, “The facts as I understand them from eyewitnesses are incredibly concerning,” she told The Associated Press. She went on: “Any attempt by the police to shift responsibility onto Duncan or his family who were sleeping when the police fired shots into their home is not supported by the facts,”
Neither Lemp, his parents, or his brother have any criminal record, according to their lawyer.
The Facts According to Lemp’s Family:
- The police fired bullets–not a flashbang or anything nonlethal–into the house while the family was sleeping inside.
- They fired through Lemp’s bedroom window, specifically, not just at the house in general. This while he and his girlfriend were asleep.
- Nobody inside the house heard the team outside call out to issue any warnings or commands before the police began shooting.
- The police seized three rifles and two handguns from the home. The police released a statement later on Thursday said that Lemp was not allowed to own a firearm, but there is no word on who owned the guns that were confiscated, since Lemp lived with his parents. The statement from police also said that SWAT team was serving a “high-risk” search warrant related to “firearms offenses.” They didn’t call it a Red Flag or ERPO warrant, however.
This all begs the question of why this warrant HAD to be served at 4:30 am.
The Police report said that the officer who shot Lemp is on administrative leave–their normal protocol after an officer-involved shooting. They continued, “The facts and circumstances of the encounter are still being investigated by (police) detectives.”
Meanwhile, Lemp’s family attorney said that they mean to “hold each and every person responsible for his death.” “We believe that the body camera footage and other forensic evidence from this event will support what Duncan’s family already knows, that he was murdered,” the family’s statement says.
What prompted the police to be at Lemp’s house at 4:30 am serving a ‘firearms related’ warrant but NOT a red flag? Was it a Red Flag and they just don’t want to call it that? We don’t know yet.
But we know a few things about Lemp from friends who were interviewed and from his social media accounts.
Lemp was a software engineer who was interested in cryptocurrency and professed to be a libertarian to his friends. According to his friends and a cursory online search, Lemp’s social media handle on sites like 4chan and Reddit was “YungQuant”. One online forum called “My Militia” has a member who identified himself as Duncan Lemp, of Potomac, and posted under the username “yungquant.” That user said he was “an active III%’r and looking for local members & recruits” as of September of 2019.
On his Instagram account, Lemp had recently posted a photograph that depicts two people holding up rifles and included the term “boogaloo.” Considering half the internet was making jokes about a ‘boogaloo’ in January, that’s hardly disturbing to us.
In fact, Lemp’s friends said he was far from anti-government. The family lawyer said, “He was pro-America and supported wholeheartedly all the protections of the Constitution,” she said.
This Story Had Better Be Convincing
There had better be a damn fine explanation for what happened here. Gun owners haven’t forgotten that Maryland has already killed one gun owner while serving a Red Flag ERPO warrant in the past. And while we’re the first to sing the praises of police and law enforcement when they defend the Constitution and our rights in the course of doing their job, it seems like these 4:30 am gun confiscation warrants are a recipe for disaster.