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Commonwealth’s attorney says Richmond Police officer justified in fatal shooting of Marcus-David Peters

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael N. Herring says the Richmond Police officer who fatally shot an unarmed man earlier this year on Interstate 95 will not be facing any charges. 

Herring said in a report released Friday morning that Officer Michael Nyantakyi killed 24-year-old Marcus-David Peters in an act of “justifiable homicide,” and that the use of deadly force was “reasonable” and “necessary.”

Police say Peters was shot and killed on May 14 after he ran naked onto I-95 and “charged aggressively” toward the officer. They said the officer shot at Peters after a stun gun “proved ineffective.” Before the deadly encounter, police say Peters led Nyantakyi on a pursuit after hitting three cars then crashing his own.  

The report says Peters suffered three gunshot wounds — two in the abdomen and one in the left forearm. The manner of death was ruled a homicide, according to the Chief Medical Examiner’s office.

“Mr. Peters’ altered mental state, his nudity and the fact that he was unarmed are all mitigating factors. However, there should be little question that the officer reasonably feared that Mr. Peters’ aggression and apparent insensitivity to pain foreclosed lesser interventions and therefore constituted an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury,” the report said. 

The report states that Peters started to decline in the weeks leading up to his death. According to the report, a close friend of Peters recalled that he had been acting “a little bit weird” for roughly a week and a half before he was fatally shot. 

Toxicology results show that Peters was on Ritalin and THC at the time of his death. The report says he had not been issued a prescription for any formulation of Ritalin. 

Peters was a science teacher at Essex County High School who graduated with honors from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Peters’ family said he was having a mental health episode and should not have been shot. 

“Marcus did not deserve to be killed. Marcus deserved help,” sister, Princess Blanding, said. “He clearly, very clearly was in distress, in major distress and he needed help, not death.”

CLICK TO WATCH: Peters’ family and supporters share their thoughts on the ruling

Nyantakyi was placed on administrative leave while the criminal investigation was underway. He will now be placed in an administrative assignment in a non-public contact position as the Richmond Police Department conducts an internal investigation.

RPD released the following statement: 

“The review of this incident by Commonwealth Attorney Michael Herring and his staff is a critical phase in the criminal investigation of this incident.  I appreciate the thorough efforts of Mr. Herring and his staff and we respect the decision they have made.  This incident will forever remain a tragedy for all those involved.”

RPD says they will host a discussion on the use of force, crisis intervention and defensive tactics with the public during a town-hall style community meeting. A date for the event has not yet been set. 

Stay with 8News for updates on this developing story. 

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