By all accounts, Marcus-David Peters, 24, was a talented, optimistic young man with a bright future ahead of him. He was a high school teacher, an honors graduate, and deeply loved by his large family of 11 brothers and sisters. In his high school graduation speech in 2011, he encouraged his classmates to persevere and stay positive. “The trying times of life will only make us strong individuals,” he told his class. But on Monday, May 14, something went terribly wrong. Peters had some kind of mental breakdown that caused him to act completely out of character, his family said. And that breakdown ended with Peters being shot by the police as he ran naked down the interstate in Virginia.
Here is what you need to know about Marcus Peters.
1. Marcus Peters Hit a Car, Fled the Scene, & Was Shot After Running Out of His Car Naked
Marcus Peters, 24, hit another vehicle at the intersection of Franklin and Belvidere on Monday evening around 5:30 p.m., May 14, the police said in a press release. He fled the scene and police followed him as he drove onto the I-95/64 ramp, The Roanoke Times reported. He lost control of his car, hit two more vehicles, and then fled his car naked. Peters was running, dancing and rolling on the interstate, witnesses said. That was when he was shot and killed.
Police tried to Taser Peters but were ineffective, The Roanoke Times reported. That’s when they fired at Peters, who was not armed. Some sources say he was shot after he charged a police officer, The Root reported. Gene Lepley, Richmond Police spokesman, said on Monday: “Our officer attempted to use a taser on the person and it failed. The attack continued and the officer drew his service weapon and discharged it striking that man.”
Peters was transported to a local hospital and died just after midnight.
The officer who shot Peters, a veteran police officer with 10 years of experience, was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. The officer’s name has not yet been released. His name will be released following a risk assessment, officials have said.
2. The Medical Examiner Said the Manner of Death Is a Homicide
Marcus-David Peters died after being shot in the abdomen, the medical examiner announced on May 16. The Medical Examiner’s Office has announced that the manner of death is a homicide, WALB reported.
A witness told WALB that Peters was “naked and rolling around on the interstate for some time before he stood to walk towards the cops.” He said that Peters had been told to get down “multiple times.”
3. The Police Chief Said in a Statement That ‘Being Naked Does Not Remove a Threat’
Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham shared his condolences with the family. In a statement, he said that the police do not take the use of force lightly. His statement read: “We are all deeply affected by what happened here – by the loss of life. Our officers do not take the use of deadly force lightly. I think it’s important to remember that being naked does not remove a threat. So far, the eyewitness accounts we’ve heard have been consistent: our officer tried using verbal commands, then used non-lethal force first by deploying his Taser before using his service weapon.”
Steve Neal, a retired Chesterfield County Police Captain, told WRIC: “There are a very few individuals that do not experience the same type of effects from a taser type of an instrument… Police officers have no way of knowing exactly who they are dealing with. When they come upon a situation this is a stranger to them and they have to assess and make their decision based on what they see.”
The Richmond Police are asking anyone who saw what happened or may have photos or videos to contact them.
4. Peters, a Science Teacher, Had Been Chosen By His High School Class To Be Their ‘Student Speaker’ at Graduation
Marcus Peters was a high school science teacher in Essex County, where he also taught a life skills class, the Richmond-Times Dispatch reported. Peters’ family said the life skills class was meant to help students build up their skills for overall success in life and find someone who could be a role model to them.
He had graduated in 2011 from Middlesex High School, where he graduated summa cum laude. His class had even chosen him to be the student speaker at their graduation. During his graduation speech, he was optimistic about the future.
He said, in part: “Each and every one of you has something special to offer the world. You have your own unique gift. We are all assets to society… The trying times of life will only make us strong individuals. Nothing in this life that has value is going to come easy.”
He went to college at VCU, where he graduated with a biology degree and cum laude honors in 2016. He minored in Spanish, psychology, and chemistry, and he volunteered in doctor’s offices, his family told the Richmond-Times Dispatch. Other sources said he also worked at The Jefferson Hotel, WTVR reported.
5. Marcus Peters’ Mom Said This Was Completely Out of Character: ‘Something Went Terribly Wrong’
Peters’ family said this was not like him at all and something must have gone very, very wrong. His mother, Barbara Peters, told the Richmond-Times Dispatch: “That was not my son. This is just so out of character. Something went terribly wrong.”
Peters had 11 brothers and sisters, and he was the third-youngest in the family.
Marquiz Hazelwood posted about Peters on Facebook: “Marcus Peters was one of the smartest and kindest men I ever had the pleasure of knowing. I’ll never forget his general niceness of spirit and his heart of gold… The world truly lost a great man….”
A friend told WTVR that Peters was one of the most kind, genuinely good people he knew.
This is a developing story.