MPD releases body cam footage in shooting of 23-year-old man who pulled gun at the Wharf

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MPD released surveillance and police body camera video to the public Friday around the police shooting of Lazarus Wilson, 23, who pulled a gun at the Wharf prompting, police say, an off-duty police official to kill him.

Chief Robert Contee met reporters Friday to answer questions about the video footage released. He made clear that at this point, at least, he believes that police official, SOD Commander Jason Bagshaw was justified in what he did.

At this point, the story is Wilson came to the Wharf with perhaps $30,000 in a bag, supposedly to buy a watch. Something happened. Robbery attempt? It’s not clear, but he pulled out a gun.

People inside the Bistro du Jour Restaurant saw him with the gun, panicked and ducked under tables. Bagshaw and his wife were also in the restaurant, off duty. They exited the restaurant and Bagshaw shot and killed Wilson, while his wife jumped another man whom police cuffed briefly and let go.

“You had Commander Bagshaw and his wife respond to the threat that they saw. As a police officer you have a responsibility to insure not only your life, but also the lives of other people," MPD Chief Robert Contee said.

Contee reminded reporters of the Peace Corps worker killed in July 2021 as he left a restaurant on 14th Street NW with his wife, hit by a stray bullet from a somebody else’s gun dispute.

Body camera video from the Wharf incident shows the aftermath of the shooting when the first on-duty officers arrived on the scene with weapons drawn, ordering Bagshaw to drop his gun, which he did, then raised his arms with his hands crossed at the top, viewed among police as an indication to the arriving officer that the person is also a cop.

Contee said MPD has not yet questioned Bagshaw about the incident. He said Bagshaw is on administrative leave with pay. He said Bagshaw’s wife is on leave, but not administrative leave because she did not have a gun on her.

Contee said the procedure is the department does not question an officer in a shooting incident until after the U.S. Attorney has made a decision about prosecution. That has not yet happened.

During the entire incident, Contee said only one shot was fired: the one that killed Wilson.

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