Off-duty Pentagon police officer fatally shot two men he assumed were breaking into car

The officer has been placed on administrative leave following the incident.

Updated: April 10, 2021 - 10:52am

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An off-duty Pentagon police officer shot and killed two men he suspected were breaking into a car in the parking lot of a condominium complex in Maryland, authorities said.

The Pentagon Force Protection Agency officer fired his gun outside the Takoma Overlook Condominiums in Takoma Park just after 5 a.m. Wednesday, police said.

He "engaged" the men "who failed to follow his direction," prior to opening fire as they attempted to leave the scene in a car, according to the Takoma Park Police Department's press release.

The men, identified as Dominique Williams, 32, and James Johnson, 38, died after being taken to a hospital, police said.

The police officer told investigators he suspected a gun to be in the men’s vehicle, The Washington Post reported.

The officer has been placed on administrative leave following the incident.

Police may use firearms off-duty in car thefts if they suspect the vehicle poses an "imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm" to the officer or others, according to a statement from the Pentagon.

"You can’t shoot people for property crimes. You can’t shoot them. That’s just flat-out true," Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, a Democrat, said at a news conference.

Elrich also said the officer "had no authority in Montgomery County."

"It’s wrong how he got killed," said Johnson’s aunt, Denise Johnson. "I’m just heartbroken about what happened."

Community activists are demanding that Takoma Park Police release dispatch calls and body camera footage from responding officers.

"This was a wrongful shooting," Seth Grimes, a Silver Spring (Md.) Justice Coalition activist told WJLA TV. "This is not someone who has been trained to handle interactions with community members. But this case illustrates why we need transparency [and] use of force rules governing police officers."