News & Politics

The Mother of Marqueese Alston Sues the City and DC Police for $100 Million

It's been two years since officers fatally shot her son. Police have not released body-camera footage of the incident.

Kenithia Alston has questioned the sincerity of Mayor Bowser’s sprawling "Black Lives Matter" mural. Photograph by Dan Swartz.

On Friday, two years to the day since DC police shot and killed her son, the mother of Marqueese Alston announced a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit against the District of Columbia and the Metropolitan Police Department. Attorneys at Georgetown Law’s Civil Rights Clinic are representing her.

Police killed Alston, a 22-year-old Black man, on June 12, 2018 in Southeast DC. Officers said he fled into an alley and shot at them first before they returned fire. Alston’s mother, Kenithia Alston, alleges she’s never gotten a full accounting of why police pursued her son. She has fought unsuccessfully for more than a year to get the city to release the police’s full body-camera footage of the incident. She says incomplete footage that police showed her privately was obviously edited and did not support their version of the events that led to her son’s death.

“It’s been two years since police killed my son and they still haven’t publicly released the body-cam footage or got their story straight about what happened that night,” said Kenithia Alston in a statement. “Nothing they have told me adds up. They can’t just get away with killing Marqueese by refusing to release evidence.”

Her lawsuit also seeks to hold the individual officers responsible, though she was unable to name them since the Metropolitan Police Department has never identified them.

In recent days, as DC streets have filled with protests against police brutality and racial injustice, Alston has spoken to crowds about her family’s ordeal and demanded police reform. During one speech, she questioned the sincerity of the sprawling “Black Lives Matter” mural that Mayor Muriel Bowser commissioned near the White House: “Do Black lives really matter? If your accounts are true about what you said my son did, release the body-cam,” she said.

In her lawsuit, Alston alleges police have changed their story about what happened to her son multiple times, and that witnesses who saw the chase never saw Marqueese with a gun or heard crossfire. She says her son’s autopsy report indicated he’d been shot mostly from behind, in the head, forearm, upper back, and thighs. Following the shooting, according to the lawsuit, two DC police officers were placed on leave and it is unclear whether they have returned to work.

Read the full lawsuit here.

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Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 as a staff writer, and became a senior editor in 2014. She oversees the magazine’s real estate and home design coverage, and writes long-form feature stories. She was a 2020 Livingston Award finalist for her two-part investigation into a possible wrongful conviction stemming from a murder in rural Virginia. Kashino lives in Northeast DC.

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