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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Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham told reporters Monday that the detective’s badge and weapon have been withdrawn.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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  • 25-1-13-a_1__max50


    over 4 years ago


    I agree with fplasencia. I would have kept on driving and from a safe distance, made the call to a dispatch operator. That's what I did one night when my POV was hit with what turned out to be paintballs on the passenger side door while driving with my then pregnant wife. I didn't go looking for the suspect. I simply noted the location and went to a safe place to make the call.

    Here in Southern California, our POV's get hit with road debris that causes more damage than any snowball would. Was this whole thing merely contempt of motorist who just happened to be a cop?

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago

    I will just repeat my post in original article.

    After watching 10 different versions of "videos"... I have some comments which may not necessarily be to everyone's taste... Sorry.

    1. This guy should have kept driving... I would problably do so in a similar situation.
    2. If he decided to stop, he should have been in the phone with a 911 Operator... I would.
    3. When out of the vehicle, he should FIRST ID himself as a PO...
    4. When at the phone, point out to the 911 OP a disorderly crowd and request back up.

    Then again, I wasn't there. It was his call, not mine...
    Althought I have been in similar situations... WITH SNOWBALLS... YES.

    That said, I have to remind everybody here: It's a PO. Duly authorized to to have a firearm. He didn't point the gun at anyone. He didn't threat anyone...
    So, please... Don't crucify him just yet....

  • White_shirt_max50


    over 4 years ago


    With 25 years of service the detective may want to consider retirement. Criminal charges could still be filed in this matter.

  • Johnf_max50


    over 4 years ago


    I agree, there has to be something more to this.. maybe the hundreds of people all aimed their snowballs at the detective & his hummer... ouch

  • Cot_max50


    over 4 years ago


    the Detective is very lucky that it didnt turn out any worse than it did, especially since a uniformed Officer showed up and had his gun drawn ( if we all remember the incident in Florida with the Detective and Officer there). it was a snowball fight, plain and simple. his vehicle got hit, it was a hummer, a civilian tank, did it do that much damage? i doubt it. i wasnt there and maybe there is more to this than what has been shown on video, so i wont second guess the Detective. i just hope that his actions dont cost him his job.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago are using a hypothetical situation here. This was what it was! Just a snowball fight. It doesn't appear that there were any intentions of hurting this officer, if they even new it was an officer at all. Heck, he should have just identified himself to see what was going on, and then joined in on the fun.

  • Mpd_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Had someone "packed" one of those snowballs with a rock or lets say a d cell battery would the Chief consider that inappropriate? Hundreds of people? With officers getting ambushed left and right here lately I think the officer's safety comes first and foremost.

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