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D.C. Policeman Accused of Pulling Gun to Quell Snowball Fight

D.C. Policeman Accused of Pulling Gun to Quell Snowball Fight

Two D.C. police officers, on not in uniform, involved in the snowball fight controversy during a winter storm on Saturday. (Screen shot from home video of the incident.)

USA Today via YellowBrix

December 21, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC – A Washington, D.C. plainclothes police officer accused of pulling a gun after his car was pelted during a Twitter-inspired snowball fight in downtown Washington has been placed on desk duty pending an investigation, The Washington Post reports.

Police initially denied any weapon had been displayed until video footage and witnesses indicated otherwise.

The video footage shows that the unidentified officer drew his gun and exchanged angry words with the boisterous crowd after his Hummer was hit by one or two snowballs, the Post said.

The City Paper reports said the police department, after initially denying a weapon was involved, issued a press release saying it had “subsequently received additional images and statements that would seem to support the allegation that the off-duty member did pull a gun” and was now investigating the matter.

The snowball fighters, mostly in their 20s and 30s, organized the “fight” at 14th and U street as a break from a huge snowstorm that had paralyzed the city this weekend.

Related: DC Chief Slams Officer Over Gun at Snowball Fight

The Post says 25-year-old Yousef Ali, a media and technology geek, spent 11 hours using Twitter and other social media to spread the word.

If the final investigation shows the officer pulled his weapon after being pelted with snowballs, D.C. Assistant Chief Pete Newsham, head of the investigative services bureau, said that “would not be a situation in which a member [of the force] would be justified,” The Post reports.

“We have to see what the entire circumstance was,” Newsham said Sunday. “But just a snowball fight, not in my mind. That doesn’t seem a situation where we would pull out a service weapon.”

Video Coverage of the Incident >>>


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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    Rats.

    Bill, You took the words right out of my mouth.

    @IA_Techie - you make 27 comments in 22 months of joining PL and that's all you've got to say? You're kidding me right?

  • Flags_1_max50

    Bmac1775

    over 4 years ago

    210 Comments

    damn, this situation just sucks. But please dont hit my vehicel with shit...its not yours, I pay for it not you. I am not going to second guess him because there were alot of people there and maybe he felt threaten....

  • 2008_1_rifle_max50

    kemartin1

    over 4 years ago

    54 Comments

    maybe not the best decision, but you can tell this crowd has the potential to became very dangerous, i wonder how many of these fine citizens would feel if they were outnumbered 50 to one. everybody keeps saying its just a snowball fight as if these people are 10 years old. How about disorderly conduct and you can always tell the people in the crowd who hate police and cant wait for the opportunity to tanish us. Sometimes I wonder why I work all these dam Holidays for idiots like that.

  • Work1_max50

    GSDRunner

    over 4 years ago

    184 Comments

    Over a Hummer!? really?

  • Phone_pics_035_max50

    cgregor12

    over 4 years ago

    3026 Comments

    It looked liked the officer just drove down the wrong street at the wrong time....I cant see the crowd "targeting" him because he was an LEO because he was in plain clothes in his personal vehicle....Maybe drawing his weapon right away wasn't a great idea seeing some people in the crowd call 911 thinking he was an actual suspect.

  • Car_004_max50

    copper380

    over 4 years ago

    2026 Comments

    I see a lot of what ifs in the comments and have to say I do not agree with the what if senarios. I hope the detective does not get in to much trouble but I feel he did not act as he should have. You will hardly ever see me make a negative statement against a fellow officer but I agree with several others that he should have called it in before confronting anyone. Lets not get carried away with the laws either (lets remember spirit of the law and letter of the law). Yes his vehicle was struck with snowballs but I fail to see intent to do damage. Without intent there is no crime. Our society is in the habit of punishing many for the actions of a few. Snowball fights are fun!!! A few will cause problems when throwing snowballs but most will not. Lets just outlaw fun then because a few have decided it is fun to victimize others (wether crimes against persons or property). People gathering to blow off some steam and possibly build community relations by meeting their neigbors (often for the first time) is not a bad thing. Enjoy the weather and stop over thinking the situation. It was just a community snowball fight. Let people have fun before fun is outlawed too.

  • Scan0014_max50

    bearone1

    over 4 years ago

    8 Comments

    I've been attacked in a bus before by an angry crowd throwing rocks and got hit in the face by broken glass fragments and a small cut by a rock coming threw the window, but I can't justify pulling a weapon for this situation especially out of uniform . if the crowd became unruly let the uniformed officers respond, I know sometimes people put rocks in snowballs and they are dangerous and crowds get out of control (its all fun and games until someone gets hurt.) I hate to make judgement when i wasn't in this guys shoes video,s can be altered as well as this Ali was a tech geek. so let the investigation dig into it and keep the peace , don't bring the heat unless you or another is in danger of serious or deadly bodily harm.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    gstyle78

    over 4 years ago

    10 Comments

    I just watched tyhe full video on YouTube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjHCI4W5D30

    The above link is to the abbrieviated clip, but it still conveys the situation. Personally, having driven through snowball fights before, depending on how wet the snow is and how hard the ball is packed, they can and have left dents in a vehicle's body panels. In addition to the damage capabilities, when they hit a vehicle, it sounds like a baseball hitting the vehicle.

    REGARDLESS,
    the out-of-uniform, OFF-DUTY officer was TOTALLY out of line and his actions not only placed himself in a high-risk situation, but it also turned a totally innocent, law-abiding, and enjoyable event into an extremely dangerous scenario. At the very least, he should see a few weeks of reduced pay suspension and have to re-qualify his firearms safety training, not to mention learning how to control his temper and excercise BETTER judgement!

    I wonder how he would justify his actions if it was his own children that had thrown the snowball and he did what he did?

    Just a thought.

    :-|

  • Super_troopers_max50

    mtty

    over 4 years ago

    114 Comments

    I was with the "Unjustified" group until the camera turned on the crowd. Hey folks we all have seen the images from the G-8 summits and I suspect that the officer was not on the twitter list.
    He DID identify himself as an officer,
    He DID call for back-up and
    He DID stay by his vehicle until his back-up arrived.
    He DID NOT know the intent of the crowd and could have reasonable expected that this was a group that was up to no damn good and could have gotten violent... and
    Lest we forget:
    "Battery" was defined at common law as "any unlawful touching of the person of another by the aggressor himself, or by a substance put in motion by him". including snow/ice balls.

    Those jerks in the crowd should have kept their' little game confined to a PARK not a BUSY intersection. God bless the officer for maintaining his control as long as he did.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    paralegal54

    over 4 years ago

    28 Comments

    From watching the original video I thought the crowd may have been more than just having fun. It surprised me the age group of the snowballers. having said that what is more important to me is that no one wants anyone throwing anything at their car regardless of what kind of car it is! If it is common or not it is not appropriate behavior. It could have caused an accident. I am NOT endorsing his pulling out his gun. In the heat of the moment bad decisions are made. I think everyone made one here and I am not placing any weight on who made the biggest mistake. It happened! It should be a lesson for all involved. Throwing snowballs at one another with consent is one thing without it is another.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Bagman22

    over 4 years ago

    16 Comments

    I feel bad for the uniform officer that seems to be highlighted in the video and yet he is just responding to a "man with a gun" situation. The off-duty guy though needs to get a life! I can't believe he would jump out into a crowd all over his vehicle getting hit by a snowball. WTF was he going to do, actually shoot someone over a snowball?!? He's lucky the crowd didn't turn on him and issue a good ole fashion azz whoopn on him. He pretty much deserved one for being stupid enough to go into a crowd. Amazing how one can throw out the officer safety over something so trivial. If common sense could be implanted into ones brain this guy should be put in line for such a procedure! As far as the comments about the kind of vehicle he's driving,,,,,,give me a break.

  • Barney_and_donna_max50

    pocodan

    over 4 years ago

    80 Comments

    Everyone needs to take a deep breath and think about this. I cannot believe that an officer would pull a gun at a snowball fight "give your head a shake." I also cannot believe that anyone would consider a snowball fight inciting a riot. I can understand him approaching the crowd about hitting vehicles but to pull a gun. Maybe I think of it differently--up in the Great White North we have snowball fights all the time, we've had them in the parking lot after work. I even recall as a child that a policeman got involved in one of our snowball fights. It was great PR for the police and he had as much fun as we did. They may not be at a corner in the middle of the downtown but it was obvious that people were there just to have "fun" and blow off steam after the snowstorm. I realize that it was downtown Washington but it didn't appear that there was a whole lot of traffic and there had to be atleast 8 inches of snow on the road so no one was travelling very fast. Just like you heard the crowd chant "Don't bring a gun to a snowball fight." Maybe it was because it's Washington and they don't get a lot of snow there. By the way, we haven't had any snow up here yet to have a snowball fight....can you send some up to us!!!!

    On that note I will wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas and a Safe, Healthy, and Happy New Year!!!!!

  • Lady_jessie_max50

    TheSarge

    over 4 years ago

    1450 Comments

    All done. Most inappropriate comments and counter-comments have been removed.

    Carry on....

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Polaris

    over 4 years ago

    8 Comments

    Really, I think that this kind of spontaneous fun is good for people. I would be surprised if something hit my car while I was driving too, snowballs can make some noise. However, I would not jump out of my car intermediately before taking in the whole situation. I'm glad no one got hurt, and I'm sure the officer won't lose his job. Happy holidays.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    ctn

    over 4 years ago

    2 Comments

    How about using the radio for actual uniforms and have them either disperse the croud if it is a problem or at least inform them to stop involving the vehicles. Also, watch the video again. This ununiformed individual walks up on one of the participants of the snowball fight and crouds his personal space, and then puts his finger in the guys face. I don't care who you are, when you act like a thug or street bully, that's what you are and you make the rest of us look bad. The little acts like this one that get caught on tape are food for the media to contiue to bad mouth the LE profession. Thanks for another black eye!

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