SWAT

Prosecutor's Office Clears Maryland SWAT Officers in Fatal Shooting of Duncan Lemp

A report cites his "anti-government," "anti-police" ideology as an impetus for the fatal no-knock raid.

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A nine-month investigation by the Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office released last Thursday concluded that the March 12, 2020 police killing of Maryland resident Duncan Lemp during an early morning SWAT raid was justified.

According to the report, which differs significantly from the original police narrative of the killing, a SWAT officer standing outside of Lemp's bedroom window shot the 21-year-old Lemp five times after he grabbed a rifle and ignored commands to drop it. The report says police recovered three rifles, two "ghost" guns, numerous magazines and boxes of ammunition, an illegal silencer, a bulletproof vest, and a shotgun shell rigged as a booby trap on Lemp's bedroom door.

The Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) obtained a no-knock search warrant to raid Lemp's house on suspicion that he owned several guns despite being "red-flagged" and prohibited from possessing any due to a juvenile offense, the details of which have not been made public. Lemp's family, through their attorney, dispute both the justification for the raid and the police narrative surrounding the shooting. Lemp's family said the search warrant was based on flimsy evidence and that Lemp was shot while asleep in bed. The case has been clouded by the conflicting accounts and the lack of video evidence.

Since Lemp's death, his name has been frequently invoked by "boogaloo boys," a loose, heavily armed, and very online anti-government movement. ("Boogaloo" refers to a second civil war or armed conflict between citizens and the government.) The report also cites Lemp's ideology and connections to the militia movement as the impetus for the violent nighttime raid.

"The reasons for the 'no-knock' provision was due to Lemp being 'anti-government,' 'anti-police,' currently in possession of body armor, and an active member of the Three Percenters," the report says. "Additionally, police had viewed several videos showing Lemp handling and shooting firearms. The police felt that knocking and announcing their presence would put the officers in serious danger if Lemp decided to resist his arrest."

The report cited text messages obtained from Lemp's phone, including one where he wrote, "I really do feel the boog though. I might not survive to see it but I'm confident my brothers will."

It also included a text chain with his mother where he talked about wanting to reinforce his bedroom door. "Do you know what a no-knock warrant is?" Lemp wrote to his mother on November 19, 2019. "A red flag law? We're one angry phone call away from a swat teams only warning being the first battering ram hit."

"You are going overboard with this stuff love and I'm honestly worried about you and us," his mother wrote on December 11. "You're behaving in a manic way. One or 2 things might be understandable but you keep buying more and more things you will never use. If you were to ever use, would be the destruction of you and everyone around you."

At about 4:30 a.m on March 12, MCPD SWAT officers approached Lemp's bedroom window, broke it out, and pulled the shades aside. According to the report:

The [shooting officer] stated that after moving his weapon and flashlight inside the window he immediately began yelling "police, show me your hands. Police, show me your hands" repeatedly. At this point, the SO observed [Lemp's girlfriend] get up from the bed and put her hands up as she was screaming. The female did not appear to be a threat and the SO then put eyes on the suspect, Duncan Lemp. As Lemp was getting up and out of the bed, the SO was yelling "police, show me your hands." According to the SO, Lemp never raised his hands and was not obeying the officer's commands in any way. As Lemp got out of the bed he was facing the officer. Lemp then bent down and picked up a rifle. As the SO saw this, he believed he started saying, "don't do it. Don't do it" to Lemp but couldn't be entirely sure. After this, Lemp continued to raise the rifle up and at this time the SO recognized it as the illegal tan rifle from the pre-raid briefings. The SO believes he may have still been saying "don't do it. Don't do it" as Lemp raised the rifle to a point where the muzzle was directly pointed at the officer himself. At this point, the SO thought that Lemp was going to kill him and so he made the decision to shoot Lemp.

The report also says Lemp's girlfriend testified that "she recalled Lemp having the rifle up on his shoulder when he pointed it towards the window where the officer was located." Attorneys for Lemp's family and his girlfriend say the report cherry-picked evidence. They are demanding the release of all evidence presented to a grand jury in the case.

As The American Conservative's James Bovard noted, the report's account of the shooting is significantly different from the MCSO's original narrative of the shooting. The MCSO claimed in a March 17, 2020 press release that:

The officers entering the residence announced themselves as police and that they were serving a search warrant. Officers gave commands for individuals inside the residence to show their hands and to get on the ground. Upon making contact with Lemp, officers identified themselves as the police and gave him multiple orders to show his hands and comply with the officer's commands to get on the ground. Lemp refused to comply with the officer's commands and proceeded towards the interior bedroom door where other officers were located. Upon entrance by officers into Lemp's bedroom, Lemp was found to be in possession of a rifle and was located directly in front of the interior bedroom entrance door. 

The MCPD has not been a model of transparency in the months following the fatal shooting. It steadfastly refused to release body camera footage of the raid or even say whether it existed. It simply ignored several public records requests filed by Reason for footage and other records related to Lemp's shootings, contrary to Maryland public record law. It also illegally failed to acknowledge a follow-up records request for its responses to other requests seeking the same materials.

The Washington Post reports that there is no footage of the raid because "Montgomery County has a policy of not equipping front-line SWAT officers with body cameras, according to department records." The Post reported that MCPD Chief Marcus Jones said his department will expand its use of body cameras to SWAT officers.

What apparently won't be addressed, though, is the use of no-knock SWAT raids like the kind that resulted in Lemp's death and the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor last year.

The Post noted that Jones testified before the Maryland legislature last summer that in 40 years of performing no-knock warrants, the MCPD SWAT team had been involved in only three shootings, and the Lemp raid was the first to result in a death.

Maryland has a long history of controversial SWAT raids. In 2008, a Prince George's County Police Department SWAT team executed a botched narcotics raid on the house of the mayor of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, and shot his two black labrador retrievers.

Public outrage over the debacle led the state legislature to pass a law in 2009 requiring police departments to collect and report data on SWAT team deployments. That data showed Maryland law enforcement conducted more than 8,000 SWAT team raids between 2010 and 2014, resulting in nine deaths. But the law expired in 2014, and legislators have yet to renew it.

Rene Sandler, the Lemp family's attorney, told The American Conservative that police "would have seen him taking Kasey to a doctor's appointment or going to a store. They could have detained him during a traffic stop while [other police] secured the home. That would be a much safer tactic than to accost an entire family and to raid blindly at 4:30 in the morning in the dark."  

Instead, the MCPD used the one tactic that Lemp apparently expected and prepared for, with completely predictable results.

NEXT: Trickster and Call Your Mother Won’t Pull You from Your Stream Binges

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  2. Good shoot. Sounds like they nipped a mass shooter in the bud. Even his mother was worried he was turning “maniac”.

    Nardz, this is what your future could hold if you do not change your ways. Minus the girlfriend part, of course.

    1. Raiding at home in the middle of the night is standard dumb tactics and should be criticized. As is typical, no clear good guys here. Just a broken person in need of mental treatment, easy access to firearms, and over enthusiastic for violence police.

      1. Tripped over your own tongue again did ya. Fuck you.

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      2. Who determined that he was “anti-government”? The government of course. Mr Lemp saw this coming and still wasn’t going to be intimidated into shutting up. Family members almost never understand, as the quote goes, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.” This could easily be me, I’m frequently critical of the government, my friends and family have told me on more than one occasion, “One day they’re going to come for you.”

    2. I think when you use the real life death of a guy who at worst was mentally ill to shit talk some people on the internet that you have personal beef with, it might be time for you to log off.

      1. If it was just anyone I might agree with you, except that Nardz openly supports using violence for political ends and regularly posts links to nutjob conspiracy sites. So the comparison is apt.

        1. sarcasmic
          January.8.2021 at 12:22 pm
          What he’s doing is no different than how Jesse and others treat anyone who disagrees with them.

          sarcasmic
          January.8.2021 at 10:21 am
          But, but, but the other team did it first!!!1!!!!one!!!1!!

          ahahahahahahah omfg he’s so stupid AHAHAHAHAHAH

        2. sarcasmic
          January.8.2021 at 1:29 pm
          If it was just anyone I might agree with you, except that Nardz

          sarcasmic
          January.8.2021 at 10:21 am
          But, but, but the other team did it first!!!1!!!!one!!!1!

          AHAHAHAHA no one fucking cares what you agree with you stupid fucking hyprocrite ahahahahha

          1. You handle thieving fuck! If you had any “Nards” to speak of, you would use your own instead of hiding behind mine!

        3. I know it was Nardz. That doesn’t make it any different. And my post applies kust as much to you for exactly the same reason.

          You should probably log off. This is the internet. The personal beefs you wear on your sleeve daily are poisoning you.

      2. I could have left the girlfriend snark off, but I stand by the rest of it. The warning is genuine.

        1. You highlight the problem.

    3. “couple times a month”

    4. Nardz,

      If you do go crazy have a hacker find this guy and take him with you.

    5. Take a closer look. His mother was not concerned that Duncan was a “maniac.” One little letter makes a difference.

  3. Boogaloo is a freestyle, improvisational street dance movement of soulful steps and robotic movements which make up the foundations of popping dance and turfing; boogaloo can incorporate illusions, restriction of muscles, stops, robot and/or wiggling.

    Good reason to shoot first.

    Or –
    Boogaloo or bugalú (also: shing-a-ling, Latin boogaloo, Latin R&B) is a genre of Latin music and dance which was popular in the United States in the 1960s. Boogaloo originated in New York City mainly among teenage Hispanic and Latino Americans.

    So shooting someone for ‘boogaloo’ is racist.
    (Unless of course you think Latinos are white)

    1. Let’s ask Zimmerman if Latinos are white

    2. There are Latinos of pretty much all races.

    3. I’m certain that ‘boogaloo boys’ has the same connotation as ‘proud boys’. Both mean men who have sex with other men.

  4. Well, I was going to try to say “in before the Bidenists declare it a good shoot”, but alas… too late, I am.

  5. Joe Biden’s America folks.

  6. So in effect they proved him right? 4:30am raids by a paramilitary squad.

    1. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.

  7. “The reasons for the ‘no-knock’ provision was due to Lemp being ‘anti-government,’ ‘anti-police,’

    I think I’m beginning to get the formula: Being pro-government but anti-police gets you mollycoddled for months while you murder, burn down and destroy your town. But we can’t have any of that anti-government/anti-police combination.

    1. Apparently. Plus someone breaking your window at 4:30 am and sticking the barrel of a gun through it is not going to make me believe that yelling police is true.

  8. “That data showed Maryland law enforcement conducted more than 8,000 SWAT team raids between 2010 and 2014, resulting in nine deaths.”

    8,000 / 4 = 2,000/yr
    2,000 / 365 = just over 5 raids PER DAY!!
    I bet the Maryland tourist department doesn’t highlight THAT in the brochures.

    Vote for fascists, get fascism; whodathunkit.

  9. No knock 2 : Maryland boogaloo

  10. So the cops lied, and the good little socialist prosecutors of MontCo decided to cover for them. How nice.

  11. But the law expired in 2014, and legislators have yet to renew it.

    Ok, so the government IS capable of passing laws with an expiration date.

  12. I keep seeing the terms “anti-government” and “anarchist” being thrown around in reference to these kinds of people.

    They are NOT anarchists, and they are NOT against government. They want an authoritarian government run by a populist leader above the whims of voters. Replacing one brand of government with another is not anarchism or anti-government. They may be anti-democracy, and anti-republic, and anti-rule-of-law, but in no way are they anti-government.

    Guy Fawkes did not try to blow up Parliament to usher in an era of anarchism, but so that his gang pro-Catholic authoritarians could rule in place of the then pro-Protestant authoritarians.

    1. Do recall that that’s what a marxist anarchist is explicitly. Their job is to tear down the existing regime so a new one can be put in place.

      1. Their job is to tear down the existing regime so a new one can be put in place.

        That tactic is not limited to Marxists.

        1. No, but as a philosophy that goes back to the 19th century, Anarchists have often been thought of as anti-state. They’re not really.

          1. If you mean dumbshit kids and dumbshit academics, yeah. There are true anarcho-capitalists who imagine a world without a central authority with a monopoly on the initiation of force. However that’s not realistic, because there will always be gangs of men who prefer theft over production, and they eventually turn into government.

            1. There are true anarcho-socialists as well. They may be nuttier than squirrel shit and madder than a big of cat, but the are anarchists in that they don’t want a state, not even a socialist state.

              We actually had an experiment in it one. Anarchist Spain under the syndicalists. It collapsed due to good old human nature wanting to impose rules on others.

              If we ever get an actual working anarchist society, it will be neither anarcho-capitalist (no state to enforce property rights) or anarcho-socialist (no state to forbid property rights). It would probably be a free market anarchism of the sort that denies the sainthood of Murray Rothbard and the sanctity of radical individualism.

            2. Agreed and shocked by an actual libertarian discussion on Hit-n-Run. Not saying I’m surprised you are in the discussion, only that it’s just been so long since I’ve read one here.

      2. Marxist anarchists are not anarchists.

    2. If you are suggesting that Duncan was pro Trump, you are mistaken.

  13. According to the report, which differs significantly from the original police narrative of the killing…

    Bob Kraft would be so well-massaged.

  14. “They could have detained him during a traffic stop”

    A close friend of mine experienced some mental health problems many years ago, his doctor abruptly took him off all his meds and this was not a good plan. He says he doesn’t remember doing any of this, but what he got in trouble for was driving around at 2AM and shooting out windows on empty buildings.

    Once the police ID’d him, the traffic stop is exactly how they arrested him. They waited for him to leave home, then waited for him to get to a stop light where they surrounded him with squad cars and then yanked him out of his car.

    Had they tried the 4AM no-knock raid, I’m pretty convinced my friend would be dead right now. He’d have grabbed his gun and been shot down. Instead, he was arrested mostly without incident, spent a couple years in county jail and got a much better doctor. He’s doing great now, gainfully employed and happy.

    This kid’s death was completely avoidable. Fuck every level of government involved in his death and excusing those responsible for it.

    1. That’s how cops operate when they want to catch someone who might be a legitimate threat. Look at how they got Whitey Bulger. In this case the cops either didn’t consider him to be a threat, or they planned to execute him before they exited their vehicles.

    2. It’s really nuts. How do they expect that people will respond rationally when they have just been woken up by someone breaking into their home? Unless someone poses a severe and immediate threat, there is no excuse for stuff like that.

      1. “Well we were worried he might want to get into a shootout with the police, so we decided to confront him at the one location he’s most likely to have fortified and be ready to defend. Just to make sure we did it right, we did it at 4AM so he was disoriented and no one involved could see shit”.

        Top notch work, guys.

        1. That’s kind of the point. Police feel cooler doing these raids, and that’s what’s important to them. Every study on the issue has concluded that the tactic is far more dangerous for the victim and no less dangerous, if not more, for police. But they keep doing them more and more for less and less violent people.

      2. Just like the Branch Davidians. Except in that case the people in the compound were ready for the Feds. Even the sheriff said it was a bad idea. A few days before he had Koresh to stop by the sheriff’s office and Koresh did. And it was all because they wanted to save the children. How many survived, I think it was none.

        Now, Koresh was a lunatic but there were better ways of saving the children then killing them.

  15. Gotta love how all the Defund The Police, ACAB spouting leftists that justified murder and the burning of whole cities on rumors of cops shooting someone are now fully backing our boys in blue bravely shooting someone.

    1. Narrative uber alles.

      It’s the Reason way.

  16. Not considered one of the ones whose life matters.

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  17. Choose amongst the following states in which you would choose NOT to live.
    New York, New Jersey, Mass., California, Maryland.

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  18. Pigs ???? in the mud.

  19. In a nutshell government can use any excuse to murder someone.

  20. Well, what with states decriminalizing or legalizing drugs, police have to find some excuse for their SWAT team budgets, so “anti-government” appears to be in the running for their new go-to, and it’ll fit in perfectly with Progressive hatred of anyone not fully invested in their philosophy.

  21. Unmentioned here is the fact that a flash-bang grenade, four times louder than a twelve gauge shotgun, and deemed a weapon of mass death and destruction by the North Carolina supreme court, was thrown into the room before any commands were given, if they were at all. How is one even to hear or react rationally in such conditions? No-knock warrants should only be used to stop violent crimes against people, as they are happening.

    1. Well, at least it wasn’t ‘military grade’ tear gas.

      Because that would have clearly crossed a line with the staff at Reason.

    2. Four times? You’re understating it. A 12 Gauge is ~156db. A flash bang is 170b. That 14db difference? 25 times louder. I have fired a 9mm ONCE without hearing protection. It took a while before the ringing stopped. A 170db flash bang? That guy couldn’t hear anything much less understand it before he was murdered by the cops.

      1. Thanks for clarification on the relative loudness. It’s awful what they did to him.

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