The Official Whitewash of the Killing of Duncan Lemp


Trust us, it was a good killing.

Why did a Montgomery County, Maryland SWAT team kill  21-year-old Duncan Lemp, in a no-knock predawn raid on March 12?  The county released an official report yesterday stating that a violent no-knock raid was justified “due to Lemp being ‘anti-government,’ ‘anti-police,’ currently in possession of body armor, and an active member of the Three Percenters.”  The report also noted that “police had viewed several videos showing Lemp handling and shooting firearms.”

Distrusting the government and police and appearing in photos or videos with firearms is a catch-all that could apply to millions of Americans. But that was enough to justify a deadly assault in one of America’s most liberal jurisdictions. (I wrote about this case for TAC previously here, here, here and here).

Montgomery County released the report on New Year’s Eve, probably hoping that it would receive scant attention. But the county’s own admissions should propel new demands for disclosures on the most under-reported police killing of 2020.   

The report details how police attacked the Lemp home from two sides. Two members of the raid team did a “‘break and rake’ on Duncan Lemp’s first-floor bedroom window while the rest of the team entered the house by using a battering ram on the main front door … Another officer used a fireman’s pike tool to break the bedroom window closest to the bed where Lemp and [his pregnant girlfriend Kasey] Robinson were sleeping. The tool also has a hook that is used to grab a hold of and pull away the blinds so that officers would have an unobstructed view inside the bedroom. Once the window was broken and the shades pulled out of the way, one officer ducked below the window line as he was unarmed. A second officer (the shooting officer) who was armed with a rifle, then stepped up to the window and looked inside to locate Lemp as soon as possible and prevent him from having time to access any weapons that could be used against the SWAT officers.” Another team of SWAT cops used a battering ram to smash in the front door of the Lemp home. 

The official report serves a completely different version of Lemp’s killing than the county police department provided on March 17. In its initial explanation of the Lemp killing in March, the Montgomery County Police Department stated: 

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. 

In the new version of the report, Lemp was shot five times by a policeman standing outside his smashed-in bedroom window. Montgomery County still refuses to name the policeman who killed him. That policeman says that he shouted a warning to Lemp before opening fire, asserting that Lemp stood up holding a rifle and turned the muzzle toward the policeman. (The family always maintained that the shots that killed Duncan came in from that window.) Were the police lying in March, or are they lying now, or are they still lying?

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