More than 100 people gathered outside Gaithersburg City Hall on Sunday afternoon to protest the police killing of Kwamena Ocran. Credit: Photos by Caitlynn Peetz

More than 100 people gathered outside Gaithersburg City Hall on Sunday to protest the recent killing of a Black man by city police.

At the event, speakers again questioned the Gaithersburg Police Department’s recounting of the Jan. 8 shooting that left 24-year-old Kwamena Ocran dead.

Police say four plain clothes officers, part of the department’s Street Crimes Unit, surveilled Ocran after receiving a report that he was armed with a handgun. When they approached him, he allegedly fled.

Gaithersburg Police Chief Mark Sroka told reporters at a press conference the night of the shooting that Ocran pulled out a handgun after reaching a sidewalk area near an apartment complex. At least one officer shot Ocran, according to police.

Kwamena Ocran’s mother, Melody Cooper, speaks to the crowd on Sunday.

Ocran’s family and some community advocacy groups have challenged the police department’s narrative, especially because none of the officers were wearing body cameras. They say Ocran was shot in the back, and they demanded that the results of official medical examinations be released to the public.

The group also emphasized the need for stronger laws to enforce transparency about police conduct.


On Sunday, the group — including Ocran’s mother, Melody Cooper — called for a transparent and independent investigation into the shooting and for a criminal trial against the officers if they are determined to have unjustly killed Ocran.

In the days following the shooting, Sroka said that the department is using an outside agency to conduct an investigation. Because the investigation is ongoing, he has not answered questions posed by reporters or community members.

Friday’s shooting is being investigated by the Montgomery County police Major Crimes Division.

A protester holds a sign during Sunday’s protest of Kwamena Ocran’s death.

When the investigation is complete, the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office will conduct an independent review as part of a reciprocal agreement between the two counties. Under the agreement, one county reviews all shootings by officers in the other county that result in injury or death.

At Sunday’s protest, attendees called for an end to the department’s Street Crimes Unit, and the removal of school resource officers from Montgomery County schools. After several people spoke, the crowd marched to the police department, near where Ocran was shot.

A protester listens to speakers during Sunday’s protest in Gaithersburg.
Robert Stubblefield speaks during Sunday’s protest.
People hold signs as they listen to speakers during Sunday’s protest in Gaithersburg.
People applaud a speaker during Sunday’s protest in Gaithersburg.
A protester holds a sign while listening to speakers during Sunday’s protest.
More than 100 people gathered on Sunday outside of Gaithersburg City Hall to protest the killing of Kwamena Ocran by police.