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Marcus Peters’ sister questions Richmond Police video: ‘I will continue to fight for justice’

RICHMOND, Va. -- Princess Blanding said she would not give up in her quest to seek justice for her brother Marcus Peters. Peters, 24, was shot and killed by a Richmond Police Officer May 14 on the side of Intestate 95.

Body camera video, released by Richmond Police Friday, showed Peters -- unarmed and naked -- ignoring Richmond Police Officer Michael Nyantakyi's command to stay back. Peters is also heard threatening to kill Officer Nyantakyi after the officer deployed his taser in an effort to subdue the high school teacher.

"The body camera footage released by Richmond Police Department today confirmed what I already knew, Marcus was unarmed, clearly in distress and in need of help. Instead of receiving help, he received two fatal bullets," Blanding said during a press conference following the Richmond Police Department's release of Officer Nyantaki's body camera video. "Marcus needed help, not death."

Blanding said she was appalled at Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham's attempt to defend the actions of his officer.

“I only wish we could have helped Mr. Peters like we do with so many people each and every day,” said chief Durham said Friday. “Unfortunately, this situation didn’t turn out that way.”

“We could not help him that day, and for that, I am truly sorry,” he added.

"The only deadly threat in this situation was the fully-armed Richmond Police officer that shot and killed my brother," she said. "Regardless of what preceded, the only reason he is dead is because of the decision of that officer."

What preceded the shooting was a bizarre chain of events that started inside the Jefferson Hotel. In addition to being a teacher, Blanding worked at the hotel part-time as a security guard.

Hotel security video, also released Friday, showed Peters pull up to the hotel in a car, take off his shirt in the hotel's upstairs lobby, proceed to an employee-only area of the hotel where he interacted with co-workers, then emerge from the hotel naked.

Video then showed Peters get back into his car and drive off. Driving away from the hotel, Officer Nyantakyi witnessed Peters drive erratically and get involved in an hit-and-run crash.

As Peters fled, Officer Nyantakyi pursued north onto the I-95 on-ramp, police said.

Peters lost control of his vehicle after he struck two other vehicles on the on-ramp, police added, then emerged from his disabled vehicle, and ran into the northbound lanes of I-95. He was not wearing any clothes, video showed.

Peters ran back towards the on-ramp and charged the Richmond Police officer, who deployed his Taser in an effort to disable Peters, police said.

It proved ineffective, so the officer fired his service weapon, striking Peters.

Peters was transported to the hospital where he later died.

WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC AND VIOLENT IMAGES, AS WELL AS STRONG PROFANITY AND BRIEF MALE NUDITY. VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.

"The footage answered some of my questions and spurred hundreds more," Blanding said.

She questioned why the officer engaged Peters after he recognized Peters was mentally unstable. She also wondered who had access to the Richmond Police body camera footage prior to its release.

She accused Officer Nyantakyi of failing to exhaust all his options in his attempt to subdue her brother.

"As a black person, how do we know, if we are in need of help, that it will not result in death?" she asked. "There is nothing that Chief Durham can say to change my mind. Marcus needed help. He did not need, nor did he deserve death. I will continue to fight for justice for my brother and I hope the community joins me in this fight. Please understand that I will not back down."

She has helped organize a community rally for Marcus, Saturday afternoon at Second Baptist Church on Idlewood Avenue in Richmond.

"I want people to remember Marcus as the outstanding person Marcus was. Marcus was a son, a believer in God, Marcus was a brother, an uncle, a teacher, a mentor. Marcus was an awesome person," she said. "I cannot diagnose my brother as he is not here to be diagnosed, however he was clearly in distress and in need of help and help was not rendered. Death was the answer."