The efforts of D.C.'s top officials to explain how a 14-year-old youth was mistakenly charged with four counts of first degree murder left many politicians and legal experts unimpressed with the explanations and appalled by the mistake.
"I'm completely stunned," said Councilwoman Mary Cheh, D-Ward 3, a constitutional law professor. "I'm sure the people of the District are stunned by this."
The youth was arrested after a police chase that started at the scene of the March 30 shooting. Four men bailed out of the getaway car and the driver fled into a nearby high school, where pursuing cops found the 14-year-old. Police officials say a sergeant misidentified the boy as the driver and took him into custody. He was held for over three weeks.
Meanwhile, a D.C. judge ordered two more men, Robert Bost and Lamar Williams, both 22, held in the killings.
D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles said police dropped the charges against the 14-year-old as soon as the city received fingerprint evidence that corroborated witness statements that the teen was not involved in the rampage.
"It's a situation that requires a public explanation as quickly as possible about what happened," former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova said. DiGenova also took aim at juvenile justice laws, which help keep information about juvenile offenders out of the public eye.
"It's appalling," he said. "Juvenile laws need to be looked at again."
Family members of the victims were outraged, too. They nearly disrupted a news conference at police headquarters on Thursday and city officials only agreed to appear before the cameras after securing a promise that they wouldn't be heckled.
Stephen Merer, a veteran defense lawyer who now heads up the forensics department at the Maryland Public Defender's office, said the wrongful arrest "shows a lack of training, really."
"In their rush to judgment to show results, they incarcerated the wrong person. Now that they've discovered their error, they're heralding it as a success in their investigation," he said. "It's incredible."
Charging documents released Friday reveal more details about the mass killings that started over a missing piece of costume jewelry.
"I'm going to [expletive] that funeral up; I'm going to shoot up the funeral," Carter told one of the men charged in the shooting. The gunmen wore "ninja-styled masks" as they rode around looking for their targets, many of whom had attended Howe's funeral earlier in the day.
As the Washington Examiner first reported on Friday, charged gunman Nathaniel Simms is cooperating with authorities and providing them with details about those involved in the shooting.