Dear PoPville – Bad Experience with MPD – Looking for Advice

Photo by PoPville flickr user philliefan99

Dear PoPville,

I had an encounter with a DC police officer a few weeks ago and wanted to get some perspectives from PoPville. I won’t get into too many specifics here, but thought someone might be able to help me figure out where to turn.

While visiting me in DC, my mom was knocked to the ground by a police officer. He wasn’t in hot pursuit, he wasn’t responding to a call. It was an accident and clearly his fault, but she seemed unhurt so we picked up and brushed her off. He left. No apology, didn’t stick around to see if there was anything he could do or follow up. Flash forward a few weeks, she’s in pain and the swollen ankle we thought she had, is actually a broken foot, discovered several doctors visits later.

I want to report this guy. I wanted to at the time, but before I had my whits about me, he was gone. I know where I was, what kind of cop he was, when it happened, a general description, his first two initials, and one other thing I think will help — but that’s it. Is there any hope of me ever figuring out who this guy was? Our city is full of great cops who bust their humps, but this guy makes them all look bad.

31 Comment

  • sounds unfortunate, also without any more explanation doesnt sound like he really did much. accidentally knocked your mother over, helped her up, she seemed ok so he left? what do you want him reported for?

  • Yz, it sounds like the OP picked her up, not the officer. What kind of police officer would knock over a citizen and not even apologize or care? This should be reported, especially since it resulted in a break. If a waiter in a restaurant did this, would you let it slide? If your boss did this, would you let it slide? I don’t know about legal recourse, but he should be reported.

    • “What kind of police officer would knock over a citizen and not even apologize or care? ”

      Pretty much every police officer, ever? 😉

      • If you watch Lethal Weapon or Die Hard, or pretty much any cop action film it happens all the time… :/

        • I don’t watch those sort of movies, but given the attitude of every cop I’ve ever had to deal with I wouldn’t be surprised by the not-my-problem response.

  • How did he knock her over? Was her driving, on a bike, on a segway, on foot? How do you know he wasn’t responding to a call? Just wondering. I’ve had far worse cop experiences so I’m not doubting your account, but I don’t think it’s going to be easy to report the guy.

  • depends–did he run her over with his car (and was was he speeding/ running red lights or something)? Or did he gently bump into her while they were both walking on the sidewalk and she has osteoporosis or something? without knowing more I don’t know how upset I think you should be.

    MPD does have an Office of Police Complaints. Don’t know what do to if it’s park police, library police, FBI police, etc. but I imagine they also have a way of complaining.

    But what do you want out of it? Are you going to sue for medical expenses? Just want a bad note in his personnel file? An apology? Knowing what you want makes it easier to ask for it, and possibly get it.

  • If I’m reading this right, you did not know until “a few weeks” later that your mother was injured. So how could the cop have known that she was injured? Are you going to go after this guy in pursuit of a verbal apology? For being a self-important douchebag? You’ve got your work cut out for you, my friend.

  • Sounds like a case of battery. Probably should have pursued it when it happened.

  • Whenever you are involved in an accident, get as much information about the offending party as you can. In the case of police officers, that would mean name, badge number, precinct and any other details you can get (a business card would include most of the information you’d need for follow up).

    Was your mom in the right (i.e. in a crosswalk, following the walk signal)?

    Was the officer on a bike or in a vehicle.

    If you’re not going to “get into many specifics”, we can’t help you much.

    • Sure, but a lot of people would be too intimidated in this situation to ask for that information.

      • Cops work for citizens, not the other way around. Sure, there are a handful of fascist-minded cops who might flip out about their authority being challenged, but our society is ruined if we’re too frightened to politely ask a police officer for their name and badge number after they run over our mother.

  • To me it seems pretty obvious that your next move is to go to MPD’s website and look to see if they have a complaint office, ombudsman, or some equivalent that would be set up to take a complaint like this. Past that, I would look up the number for the precinct in which the incident occurred and explain your situation and the story.

    In the end, maybe the officer can be identified or at least the MPD will agree to pay your mom’s medical expenses. But I would expect, at a minimum, a very lengthy and frustrating process, even if everything goes right for you.

    • Hopefully it’s just an apology or a complaint in the personnel file that the OP is seeking. I’m guessing the MPD wouldn’t agree to paying medical expenses without the duress of litigation, and proving in court that the officer caused the foot injury would be difficult–especially without witnesses and given the length of time elapsed. (MPD could reasonably argue that who knows whether the injury occurred at some point after the fall?–it’s one party’s word against the other’s)

    • There is a DC Office of Police Complaints:
      I used to run their mediation program, and, to my knowledge, there’s probably little that can actually be done in this case, given the time that elapsed, the lack of a punishable offense being committed, and the lack of identifying information. However filing a complaint will at least make sure this issue is registered somewhere. If there’s something that can be done, they’re the folks who will take care of it — not MPD.

    • ah

      To me it’s obvious your next call should be to a personal injury lawyer, who can advise you on how to turn a broken foot into mental anguish, loss of consortium, and plenty of other lucrative ills.

  • “I know where I was, what kind of cop he was, when it happened, a general description, his first two initials, and one other thing I think will help — but that’s it.”

    What kind of cop he was?

    One other thing?

    It’s a classic post like this why I love to hate this blog.

  • Report it. Call the City, call your ANC rep, call mpd, call your council member… do not let them continue to walk around with impunity the way MPD amd most cops do. Unfortunately, cops are not the friendly neighborhood folks of yesteryear and the genuine good hearted ones are the few and far between. They need to be held responsibly at every encounter where they do wrong. Also, ACAB.

  • I think the fact that it took you several weeks to figure out that your mother was actually injured is going to work against you. Would you care this much about tracking the individual down if it wasn’t a cop?

    • Agreed – OP should let it drop already. Go spread some joy for a change.

      • Yeah. Cops are shitty people, and that’s just a fact of life. Fighting this will just make you frustrated and angrier.

  • Unfortunately a difficult situation, you and your mother don’t have a leg to stand on this one. Since you did not get all the information at the time of the accident and several weeks have passed since the accident, it is your word against an officer. There is two stories on the story you presented to us. Who is to say other factors may have contibuted to her pain. Spend the time and energy getting your mother better. A lesson learned for the rest of us.

  • Do you really need to find him?

    People make mistakes.

    Take the anger and frustration you feel and turn it into positive energy by helping someone in need.

    You will show the world that we are not all jerks who knock
    over people’s mothers.

  • You said yourself it was an accident. Neither you nor your mom even knew she was badly injured for weeks.

    Let it go. Accidents happen. Sorry your mom got a broken foot from a cop. There isnt going to be an apology every time something bad happens. just move on.

  • -assuming your mom and the police officer where both on foot-
    If it was a random member of the public would you pursue them with the same gusto? Yes this was an unfortunate accident and I’m sorry your mom suffered an injury but accidents do happen. It is too bad the officer didn’t show more compassion but what restitution are you looking for? Though by your written account it seems like he did help you to pick your mom up but just didn’t stay around.

    I think its just an unfortunate mishap and there is nothing more to do other than make sure your mom heals and recovers as soon as possible.

  • Given all the responses, I think we can put this one to bed, lol. Everyone seems to be on the same page. Sorry this happened but methinks you don’t have much recourse at this point.

  • Your mom gets knocked on her ass and you still feel obligated to end your letter with the obligatory laudatory statement. There are SOME great cops here. Some.

    You get the cops you deserve.

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