Statement from Chief Cathy L. Lanier, (MPD) DC Police
As Chief of Police, I wanted to respond to the many messages received to our police listserv groups last night in reference to the off-duty police officer’s actions on last Saturday.
I have reviewed the video clips and heard from the public. It is very obvious to me that the officer pulled his service weapon in response to the snowballs hitting his vehicle.
I have no doubt about this, nor has the officer denied the accusations.
Let me be very clear in stating that I believe the actions of the officer were totally inappropriate!
In no way, should he have handled the situation in this manner.
We have taken swift action by placing him on non-contact status until all the facts are gathered and discipline is handed down.
This officer’s conduct, in no way, reflects the training and the standards we hold each officer to at the Metropolitan Police Department.
During the course of this horrendous snow storm, our officers worked hard and made many significant arrests for drug and burglary crimes, as well as gun recoveries.
What is so disturbing is that, up until this incident, I had received several messages of thanks from the many people our officers assisted when their cars became disabled in the blizzard conditions.
So it does not sit well with me that the negative actions of one officer has become “viral” during a time when so many officers have done so much good.
I can assure you that we do take this matter very seriously and will handle it appropriately.
The video clips and the number of witnesses willing to come forward have proven a point I have reiterated, you are the additional eyes and ears in the community and your feedback in solving criminal complaints is crucial. My office is receptive to this kind of information.
I encourage all residents to remain active in our fight against crime and to know that at MPD, we believe no one is above the law.
Cathy Lanier Chief of Police
Metropolitan Police Department Washington, DC
She seems to be taking things seriously, and she didn't make any excuses for the officer's actions. Good to go.
Now check out the festering garbage statement from "DC Police" - sounds like the Police Union - which may or may not represent the feelings of the majority of the department:
STATEMENT FROM DC POLICE
December 20, 2009
INCIDENT INVOLVING SNOWBALL THROWING CROWD IN THE 1400 BLOCK OF U STREET, NW
(Washington, DC)- The Metropolitan Police Department is looking into the circumstances involving the report of officers pulling their guns on a crowd that had been throwing snowballs in the area of 14th and U Streets, NW.
On Saturday, December 19, 2009, an off-duty MPD member was reportedly operating his personal vehicle in the 1400 block of U Street, NW, when the vehicle was suddenly pelted with a barrage of snowballs. The member who was in plainclothes, stopped his vehicle to inspect for any damage that may have occurred. He then reportedly identified himself and went to investigate a crowd that had gathered as being the possible origins of the projectiles. Due to the number of individuals in the crowd and developing traffic conditions, the member called for assistance.
Arriving officers from the Third District responded to the scene for the report of a possible man with a gun incident unfolding at that location. Responding officers cautiously approached the scene as is protocol with a potentially dangerous assignment such as an armed individual, but at this time there is no evidence that they pointed any weapons in the direction of the crowd or at any individuals. Those officers were quickly able to ascertain that the individual in question was indeed a fellow sworn member and were able to deescalate the situation quickly without incident or injury.
The original videotape footage shown yesterday by a local media outlet did not appear to visibly show the off-duty member drawing his weapon during the course of his actions. However, the department has subsequently received additional images and statements that would seem to support the allegation that the off-duty member did pull a gun. The Metropolitan Police Department is intent on conducting a full investigation in determining all of the exact circumstances surrounding this incident.
The Metropolitan Police Department has truly appreciated the cooperation from the community as we all team together to tackle the many challenges encountered during these severe weather conditions.
Let's start with the title to this thing. They (whoever that is) call it the "Incident Involving Snowball Throwing Crowd," but that is not what this is about. Sure, it involved them, about as much as it involved people driving through the intersection in Hummers; but the Chief Lanier didn't assign snowball throwers to desk duty, nor did she take away their badge and gun. Well, maybe she's taken away their guns, but you know what I mean. This is all about the inappropriate actions of a cop, and not about the actions of people throwing snow.
Next, we have the all to known scare tactic of making the perpetrator out to be the victim: the officer in question, the one who pulled his gun, had his vehicle "suddenly pelted with a barrage of snowballs." Well holy shit! A barrage of deadly assault snowballs? Were these malicious individuals throwing them in rapid-fire? Was his vehicle OK? The report from this probably calls them "foreign missiles," or some other silly name. If the crowd was throwing ice chunks, then a driver could have a legitimate claim for personal damages. But they weren't throwing ice, they were throwing snowballs; the same kind that your kids throw at each other's faces for fun. Regardless, if I stopped my car because some people damaged my fender with a chunk of ice, and I pulled my gun out, I would be in jail within minutes. Period.
Next, he reportedly identified himself, which I'm getting the feeling is in question, before pulling his gun and looking for the little terrorist who threw the deadly "projectiles" (told you so). I guess "wadded up spheres of snowflakes" doesn't emphasize the obvious danger to society. Way to go. So in the citizens complaint against the officer, instead of saying that he pulled his gun, they should call it something more "official" like - "the officer pulled out an object