“As I am imposing the maximum sentence of 28 years under this agreement, I do so reluctantly,” said Canan, adding that he believed the crimes were more serious than the sentence implied.
Overton pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Okoroh’s death. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of assaulting police officers in February.
Overton said he can’t remember the shooting because he was under the influence of PCP at the time. His plea was an Alford plea, an agreement in which he accepts punishment without asserting guilt.
Overton apologized to Okoroh’s family and asked for forgiveness.
“I didn’t mean to do it,” he said.
On June 4, 2013, just before 3:00 a.m., police officers heard gunshots and saw a muzzle flash in a speeding taxicab as it drove by them on Ontario Road Northwest and approached it after it crashed, according to court documents. Okoroh suffered two gunshot wounds in his taxi, one to each shoulder, documents say.
Overton exited the vehicle, pointed a handgun at a police officer, and ran into the bushes of a nearby residence, according to plea documents. He then engaged the police in a shootout, in which he broke into a basement on the 2300 block of Ontario Road Northwest before being arrested, documents say.
Okoroh was transported to Howard University Hospital with two gunshot wounds to his back, where he gave a description that matched Overton, and then later died of his wounds, according to court documents.
Okoroh was remembered in letters to the court by his pastor, Abayomi Ademuwagun, his wife, Patience Okoroh, and four of his five children.
“He was the best friend anyone could want to know,” Patience Okoroh told the court. “I just want him here and I can’t have him here.”
“Where is my daddy?” wrote his youngest child, “Why? Why? Why? I miss my daddy.”
“28 years or a million years, it doesn’t matter,” said Ademuwagun, “No amount of justice can be done. A good man is dead.”
“There are no words for it,” Canan told Okoroh’s family, “But your father’s memory will always be a blessing.”
A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office is below.
District Man Sentenced to 28 Years in Prison For Murder of Taxi Driver and Assault of Two Police Officers
Defendant Fired at Officers, Forcibly Entered Apartment in Hopes of Evading Capture
WASHINGTON – Ercell D. Overton, 33, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to 28 years in prison on charges stemming from the fatal shooting of a taxicab driver and a subsequent shoot-out with police, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.
Overton pled guilty in February 2014, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, to one count of second-degree murder while armed for the slaying of Solomon J. Okoroh and two counts of felony assault on a police officer while armed. The plea agreement was approved by the Honorable Russell F. Canan, who sentenced Overton this morning. Upon completion of his prison term, Overton will be placed on five years of supervised release.
According to the government’s evidence, at approximately 3 a.m. on June 4, 2013, three officers from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) were in a police vehicle and on patrol in the Adams Morgan area of Northwest Washington when they heard the sound of a single gunshot. Moments later, the officers observed a speeding Ford Explorer, “Classic Cab” taxi pass their location. The taxicab headed south in the 2300 block of Ontario Road NW, where it crashed into a parked car. As the taxicab passed by the police vehicle, officers observed a muzzle flash and heard the sound of a second gunshot from inside the passenger compartment of the taxi.
Upon impact, officers observed an unarmed man flee from the rear passenger side of the taxi. Two of the officers exited the police vehicle and apprehended the fleeing man without incident after a brief pursuit by foot.
Overton, on foot, then appeared behind the police vehicle and pointed a pistol toward the third officer, who was at the driver’s wheel. That officer exited the vehicle and took cover. Overton then ran behind the fence line of a house in the 2300 block of Ontario Road NW and discharged his weapon in the direction of two of the three police officers, who returned fire. Overton then forcibly entered a basement apartment on the block in an attempt to evade capture. MPD officers subsequently gained entry into the apartment and apprehended Overton and recovered a semi-automatic pistol in close proximity to Overton.
The taxi driver was later identified as Mr. Okoroh, 59, of Glenarden, Md. Mr. Okoroh suffered two fatal gunshot wounds to his back. He was taken to a hospital, where he died about two hours after the shooting. Prior to his death, he provided detectives assigned to the case a physical description of his assailant, which matched that of Overton.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen praised those who investigated the case for the MPD, including members of the Third District and Homicide Branch. He also expressed appreciation for those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Kwasi Fields. Finally, he commended the work of Assistant U.S Attorney George Pace, who prosecuted the matter.