U.S. Attorney’s Office Concludes Investigation Into Fatal Shooting Outside Wharf Restaurant

U.S. Attorney’s Office Concludes Investigation  Into Fatal Shooting Outside Wharf Restaurant

            WASHINGTON – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia announced today that there is insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal civil rights or District of Columbia charges against a commander from the Metropolitan Police Department who was involved in the July 2022 fatal shooting of Lazarus Wilson, outside a restaurant in the Wharf neighborhood in Southwest Washington, D.C.

            The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the MPD Internal Affairs Division conducted a comprehensive review of the incident, which included a review of law enforcement and civilian eyewitness accounts, surveillance video, BWC footage, physical evidence, recorded radio communications, forensic reports, the autopsy report, and reports from the Metropolitan Police Department.

            According to the evidence, after 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 16, 2022, MPD Commander Jason Bagshaw of the Special Operations Division was dining with his wife, an MPD investigator, at a restaurant located in the Wharf neighborhood in Southwest D.C. Although Commander Bagshaw was off duty, he was equipped with his Glock 17 service pistol. Commander Bagshaw and his wife observed a commotion from the area of the restaurant facing Wharf Street SW and the Potomac River. Patrons and employees of the restaurant began crouching down and crawling away. Commander Bagshaw and his wife walked towards the direction of the commotion.

            When Commander Bagshaw and his wife exited the restaurant, they observed Lazarus Wilson pointing a firearm at another individual in what appeared to be a robbery attempt. The firearm was later recovered at the scene. A friend of Mr. Wilson was also present on the scene. Commander Bagshaw retrieved his Glock 17 service pistol from its holster, pointed it in the direction of Mr. Wilson and stated, “MPD, drop the gun!” However, Mr. Wilson did not comply, and Commander Bagshaw discharged one round striking Mr. Wilson in the left cheek. Mr. Wilson was transported by DCFEMS to George Washington University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead later that evening.

            After a careful, thorough, and independent review of the evidence, federal prosecutors found insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Commander Bagshaw used excessive force under the circumstances.

Use-of-force investigations generally

            The U.S. Attorney’s Office reviews all police-involved fatalities to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to conclude that any officers violated either federal criminal civil rights laws or District of Columbia law.  To prove civil rights violations, prosecutors must typically be able to prove that the involved officers willfully used more force than was reasonably necessary.  Proving “willfulness” is a heavy burden.  Prosecutors must not only prove that the force used was excessive, but must also prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the officer acted with the deliberate and specific intent to do something the law forbids. 

            The U.S. Attorney’s Office remains committed to investigating allegations of excessive force by law enforcement officers and will continue to devote the resources necessary to ensure that all allegations of serious civil rights violations are investigated fully and completely. The Metropolitan Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division investigates all police-involved fatalities in the District of Columbia.

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