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DC Chief Slams Officer Over Gun at Snowball Fight

DC Chief Slams Officer Over Gun at Snowball Fight

A group takes part in an impromptu snowball fight that took over the intersection of 14th and U Streets during a snow storm in Washington, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009. (AP Photo)

The AP via YellowBrix

December 22, 2009

WASHINGTON — The city’s police chief slammed a veteran detective Monday for pulling a gun during a mass snowball fight that had been advertised on Twitter.

Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier said she watched video clips from the confrontation and has no doubt the off-duty detective pulled his gun after snowballs hit his personal car during Saturday’s record snowfall.

“Let me be very clear in stating that I believe the actions of the officer were totally inappropriate!” Lanier said in a statement after the videos made the rounds on YouTube. “In no way should he have handled the situation in this manner.”

Lanier said the detective, whom she did not identify, did not deny the accusations. He is on desk duty until an investigation is complete.

Related: See the video.

Hundreds of people gathered for the snowball fight on a major street after organizers used social networks such as Twitter to advertise it.

One video posted on YouTube showed a man holding what appears to be a gun in the snowy street. Another video shows the same man telling people he is “Detective Baylor” and he pulled his gun because he was hit by snowballs.

At one point, the crowd begins to chant: “Don’t bring a gun to a snowball fight!”

Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham told reporters Monday that the detective’s badge and weapon have been withdrawn. He said the detective has more than 25 years of experience and a good reputation.

Newsham said the internal affairs division wants to complete its investigation as quickly as possible.

“We have to put the whole incident into context,” he said.

There could be a recommendation to discipline the detective, which could range from a reprimand to removal, he said.

Police have at least two videos of the incident, and Newsham said there could be more as the footage shows other people with cell phones and cameras. Police are working to obtain any additional material and will continue to speak to witnesses. He asked people to contact police if they have more footage.

There were no arrests, he said.

The videos also show a uniformed police officer holding his gun by his side before holstering it. Police said in a statement Sunday that he was responding to a call about an armed man, acted appropriately and did not point his weapon at anyone.

Newsham praised the work of other officers who arrived at the scene and de-escalated the situation.

He called the incident “very disappointing.”

“It does bring a negative light” on the department, he said, and detracts from the work of hundreds of officers who helped people in the snow and directed traffic.

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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    This alleged Chief is bowing to the media for political reasons

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    Here are the law violations by the crowd that I observed according to the laws in my state.
    1. Rioting ( Yes it falls under the legal definition)
    2. Assault with a dangerous weapon
    3. Throwing or dropping objects at a moving vehicle
    4. Disorderly Conduct.
    5. Unlawful Assembly.
    6. Impeding traffic.
    7. Interfering with official process/ obstructing officer
    8. Destruction of property.

    Sorry but the crowd was 100 percent wrong. The Officer was justified.

    You don't have to have a deadly threat to draw your gun. Its the threat of death or serious bodily injury to yourself or others.
    One account I read said there was innocent bystanders walking through the crowd getting nailed with slushballs. Everyone here has felt a slushball that could crack someones skull or destroy an eye.
    The detective was justified all day long

  • Meangreen01_max50

    AZmeangreen

    over 4 years ago

    2338 Comments

    Something as innocent as a snowball can become a dangerous weapon when a person places an unseen item (ex: rock, broken glass, etc) inside. Either way, I hate seeing management throwing the employee under the bus before anyone knows what really happened.

  • Mt_max50

    MountainSmoky

    over 4 years ago

    110 Comments

    A detective in a Hummer? Reminds me of CSI Miami

  • Remember_max50_max50

    notmeofficer

    over 4 years ago

    250 Comments

    Tactically it MAY not have been the greatest move... but legally justified.. most likely... can he be written up for bad tactics.. sure

    In California we have a vehicle code violation " throwing a "missile" at a motor vehicle.... who knows what some idiots intent was... all one has to do is observe

    and as we know all these little "darlings", who look like adults to me and not kids,... would ever put a rock inside a snowball now would they...

    The Police chief should be fired for making a judgment on the officer before the investigation was complete

    For the grace of god there go I

  • 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.

  • Tac_max50

    Deputy_mcso

    over 4 years ago

    2 Comments

    good post Djfludd I agree 100%.....and if anyone should be removed it should be the DC Chief, coming out against an Officer's actions especially before the IA investigation is complete is utterly unprofessional. And why no arrests...just like Djfludd pointed out that there was a felony committed and lets not forget the second felony of assault on an Officer. And is it just me or has anyone else had enough of all that twater....oops I mean twitter cr@p.

  • Anonymous-killer-whale-232189_1__max50

    Whalewatcher

    over 4 years ago

    11226 Comments

    Haven't seen any of the videos, but my first thought would have been to make sure I could ID the snow-ball thrower and then call for assistance after driving far enough away to be "out of range" whil still being able to keep an eye on the crowd. Hope the detective doesn't lose his job over this, and I don't think he should.

  • Fireheart_max50

    firesong1972

    over 4 years ago

    2 Comments

    Yeah officer safety comes first, but the officer is first and foremost responsible for his safety. He was the one who put himself into a possibly dangerous situation when he got out of his vehicle with out appropriate back up. A large crowd like that, regardless of what was going on, should not be confronted by a single officer considering today's climate toward our officers.
    It is a learning situation. One should always remember not to react in anger.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    Hey BTW- Once again I echoed flplasencia word-for-word and hadn't read his post before I posted mine a minute ago! Bump. Like we both said, we all make mistakes and if no one is hurt or killed and no ethics issues are involved, let's address a mistake and move on. Be safe out there brothers and sisters. As NW Wash State has been sadly and tragically demonstrating recently, this is a DANGEROUS job. God Bless.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    I think the veteran detective in question just simply made a mistake. No one was hurt but he was wrong to pull his pistol, as there appears to be no immediate deadly threat and he was at risk of being disarmed by the crowd once he skinned his pistol. He should not have even waded into that kind of fiasco alone, as his only resort once he did so and drew his weapon was be challended to use it and back away or Heaven forbid, actually inappropriately use it (good that he didn't).

    As a long-time administrator, trainer and firearms instructor, this is a teachable moment for me for future incidents: He didn't apparently have any intermediate use of force capabililty or system readily available or accessible: taser, baton, OC, etc., so that is the liability fo carrying ONLY a pistiol off-duty. IF you're only going to carry a pistol, you can only use it for deadly force and you are not able to use lesser means. I wonder of MPDC policy requires a lesser means of force system?

    It is easay to Monday morning quarterback when I wasn't there, but by standard police doctrine, he should have backed away, called 911 on his cell and gotten uniforms there to handle the call. He was also at risk of blue-on-blue friendly fire. In that all accounts are that he is a good 25-year detective, I hope that he doesn't get fired, as he may have an articulable reason for his actions that none of us even know of until we hear his statement (2 sides to everything).

    Personally, I think a written disciplinary warning corrective training would suffice. No one got hurt or killed. Yes, this could have been a catastrophe but thank God it wasn't.

  • Photo_user_banned_big

    Criminology101

    over 4 years ago

    200 Comments

    Excellent post djfludd. The snowball fight was a clear case of a sitution gone out of control. The participants most likely packed rocks inside their snowballs and intentionally fired them off at his hummer. Juvenile deliquents who engage in this type of behavior pose a health and safety risk to pedestrians. Their behavior also is masked in their intrinsic desire to defy social order. The officer's efforts to engage in riot control is clearly underestimated.

  • Quickley-b240_max50

    bill9823

    over 4 years ago

    2116 Comments

    I am not going to take sides here, I have watched the youtube videos that others have posted and didn't see him point his weapon at anyone, that being said I think he overreacted, he should have driven to a clear area and called it in. What they were doing is against the law. Fun as it may have been for them, they were still breaking the law.

  • Lol_sun_in_clouds_02_max50

    Djfludd

    over 4 years ago

    230 Comments

    Just in case people missed it.. The Detective must have I.D himself, because he was recieving chants and taunts at one point of "EFF YOU PIG". So no mistaken Identification there. Next the detective got out of his vehicle after it was hit with "snowballs". 18.2-279 .. that is the Virginia Criminal Code for "firing or THROWING any projectile or missile at or in any occupied building or dwelling" this has been extended to include vehicles and it's a felony. So once the first snowball hit his vehicle a crime/felony was in progress. We have a duty to act. Personally I would have radioed for assistance before getting out to further asses the situation but as far as I see he had solid resoning for exiting his POV-- a felony being commited in his presence-- and after he he was identified as a LEO he was still assualted by at least one individual. And with everything going on in the world concerning LEO's (the state of Washington comes to mind), I cannot fully blame him for how he reacted. We have very few supporters as it is. The general public/population only like/respect us when life hands then some lemons, and expect us to walk on water or turn it to wine, then dissappear. And to be picky about it....you have a large crowd of people( let me see your permit because a "snowball fight" is not a peacful demonstration) in an intersection of street people are trying to navigate without hitting other cars now idiots on foot ar e being added to the perilous driving conditions. If anything his presence probally saved some snot-nose dingleberry from running in to the street and getting hit. Hope his superiors take that in to consideration before jumping the gun for fear of public opinion. They shouldn't fear what they already know, and what was made painfully obvious by haow this officer of 25 years was taunted and name-called by the people he has sworn and for 25 years served and protected. PUBLIC OPINION = NO RESPECT.

  • New_boat_max50

    ttredeau

    over 4 years ago

    72 Comments

    I'm just wondering where Obama is on this one; did the officer not act "stupidly"?

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