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“On Wednesday, August 12th at 4:40PM I was walking on First Street, NE approaching K Street when a man running by punched me in the face”

by Prince Of Petworth August 18, 2015 at 1:15 pm 128 Comments

via google maps

“Dear PoPville,

Some of you may have seen the recent coverage of the multiple assaults that took place on First Street, NE Wednesday, August 12, 2015. I am writing, as one of the victims, to provide more clarity about what happened and most importantly to provide information to all DC residents about how this incident was handled by MPD and the US Attorney’s Office. I am outraged and shocked about how this was handled and I think all residents should know what to expect if they ever find themselves victims of a vicious assault in DC.

First a little background, I’ve lived in DC for 15 years and unfortunately this is not the first time I’ve been the victim of a violent crime and I sincerely doubt it will be the last. I am generally supportive of MPD and the hard work of their officers and am a strong advocate of the city that I am proud to call home. However for the first time in 15 years, I do not feel safe here. Not because of criminal acts alone. Because I feel that the expectation is that we as DC residents are on own to deal with criminal acts.

On Wednesday, August 12th at 4:40PM I was walking on First Street, NE approaching K Street when a man running by punched me in the face. [Ed. Note: OP is a woman.] He left me with a laceration, swelling and bruising around my eye. Over the next hour, I learned he assaulted many others and attempted to steal a baby from a mother. Based on witness accounts, it appears he was high on synthetic marijuana.

The police officers, EMT and all of those walking around the very busy area were incredibly helpful, comforting and supportive. Unfortunately that is where any positive aspect of the situation ends. I learned the next day – and not from MPD or from Victims Services – that this individual was charged with simple assault, ticketed and immediately released. Right back into the neighborhood where the assault took place. As a victim, am I supposed to feel confident that he learned some kind of lesson from this assault (that he has no memory of, per MPD)?

I am outraged that this level of violence in some way equates to simple assault which generally when applied in DC cases relates to threats of assault of bodily harm. Charges are escalated to aggravated assault when actual bodily harm occurs. I am having a very difficult time reconciling how punching multiple people in the face in a manner where at least two of them require medical attention does not constitute bodily harm and therefore aggravated assault (at a minimum).

What I would like to know from MPD and the leadership of DC is:

1) Who made the decision to charge someone with simple assault when that person was accused of hitting six people, positively identified by three of them (that I personally know of), attempting to knock a man out of his wheelchair and attempting to kidnap a baby? In a matter of a couple of minutes.

2) Who made the decision to immediately release this individual back to the same neighborhood? Was he tested for synthetic marijuana? Was he kept somewhere while the drugs made their way through and out of his system? Was he still high when he was released?

3) What can we do as citizens to ensure that when someone commits a violent and vicious attack that they are held as appropriate and charged accordingly?”

  • Anonymouse

    Wow. Scary stuff.

  • V

    I am so very sorry this happened to you! I agree on ALL levels. I’m from DC and was here through the murder capital days, but was a kid… I feel like it’s hit or miss out here these days! it’s the wild wild west! Muriel and Cathy are going to have to call in reinforcements… Call up Gray and Fenty (did I just say that?) and ask for friggin help! these hooligans are a menace out here on these streets.. Save Our Streets!

  • K

    I’m sorry to hear you were one of the victims. That sounds so scary. I work on that block and we were all really concerned when we first started hearing the reports of people being attacked.

    Didn’t MPD and the Mayor say the spike in crime was linked to synthetic drugs and were mostly committed by repeat offenders? I’m really interested in hearing why then this guy was only ticketed and released.

  • Anonymous

    Keep the stats down down down, keep the property values up up up.
    Look who pays for the mayor and city council. It all trickles down from there.
    At the end of the day, the beat cops are told to keep stats down by any means necessary at the risk of losing their jobs – “simple assault” instead of “aggravated assault,” “forgetting” to file a report (especially if there’s no apprehended perp and no hospital visit), discouraging victims from filing a report/refusing to take a report, etc.
    It all boils down to systemic greed. Every politician – including Catania – is in the back pocket of some real estate interest.

    • MellyNE

      This is the most accurate statement ever. Thank you for writing this. It seems this admin’s all about the appearances.

    • Bitter Elitist

      I wholeheartedly agree. The press is in on it too. I’ve seen yellow crime scene tape around Meridian Hill and not one word on the news or in the paper.

      • Hill Res

        Agree. Shooting took place Sunday afternoon Maryland and 8th NE (closed street, police responded…yellow tape, shot up cars and shell casings). Nothing on the police blotter and didn’t make the weekend update that DC PD sends out Monday morning.

        They are trying to control the message.

    • Steve

      I don’t know if if its real estate related, but other friends and I have had situations where police tried to discourage us from filing crime reports when the theft was minimal (e.g. car break-in w minimal theft). Sad state of affairs, but if you are ever discouraged from filing a police report, contact your councilmember and OAG.

    • neighbor


  • newdarkages47

    Wasn’t the person who killed the AU grad on the metro in NOMA also released the same day for simple assault before he committed the murder?

    • Adam

      yes, about 48 hours before…

  • blahblahblah

    I can’t believe he wasn’t charged with attempted kidnapping for trying to steal the baby. Thankfully the mom was able to fight him off. I can’t imagine what he’d have done if he’d actually managed to get away with it. .

    • ParGage

      Unfortunately, the mom was not able to fight the man off- she was incapacitated because she too had just been punched in the face. Several concerned citizens and onlookers saw what was going on and wrestled the guy to the ground.

  • FridayGirl

    Wow, this sucks. Regarding question #2, from my understanding, it’s basically impossible to test for synthetic marijuana since the chemical makeup changes ever so slightly with each type/batch. However, I’m very surprised to hear that the guy wasn’t at least charged with attempted kidnapping (Is that a charge that exists?) or child endangerment?

  • DCD

    Can we please call that drug anything else?

    • shadesofpale


  • Jwetz

    One of the problems with “synthetic marijuana” is that it is a different cocktail almost everytime. There are hundreds of chemicals that get mixed in different labs to different levels of potency. That variety in the mix of chemicals is most of the cause of testing trouble.

  • Ryan

    Serious question: How can you tell the difference between someone who is on synthetic marijuana and someone high on a different drug, or even just a crazy person? If it were a year ago would we be saying he was probably high on bath salts?

    • Emilie504

      yep. Synthetic marijuana seems to be the new scape goat.

    • N

      It is difficult to tell the difference without actually having the test results. Synthetics are pretty volatile, and can impact every person differently. They can also mirror the effects of drugs like PCP, which is also a very popular substance here in DC. It would be difficult to really make any judgement.

    • Petworth Adam

      Totally agree. let’s stop guessing what people are high on and just call it like we see it. “dude was messed up on some real shit.”

      • ExWalbridgeGuy

        Right, it doesn’t even matter whether he was drunk ,or high on synthetic marijuana, or bath salts or some real ish. If he is guilty of assaulting a bunch of people and attempting to kidnap a baby (!), just send him to jail.

  • shaw

    I, too, would love to know who it is who is responsible for undercharging every single one of these criminals we have running around and wreaking havoc on our city and murdering our citizens, so that we can have him / her / them removed from office and replaced with someone who thinks violent crimes like this one deserve a little more attention than rolling through a stop sign (which also results in getting a ticket and being released). Something like this deserves at least a year in jail upon conviction and at least $50,000 cash bond, with remand unless it is paid in full, until the trial leading up to that conviction.
    DC has always been soft on crime, though. Especially with juveniles. It’s a wonder our murder rate isn’t double or triple what it already is.

    • anonymous

      “DC has always been soft on crime, though. Especially with juveniles. It’s a wonder our murder rate isn’t double or triple what it already is.” Yep, I agree with this entirely. I feel like you’re on your own in this city. When you factor in the cops having an incentive to manipulate the crime stats, it doesn’t give one confidence that innocent people’s interests are in mind. Ugh. Very sorry to hear of the OP’s ordeal.

    • mona

      I believe the person responsible for letting this happen it Lanier and Bowser

  • Josh

    I’m sorry this happened to you. I live near NoMa (closer to H Street NE though) and feel that the area is safe in general, but unfortunately crazy incidents like this continue to plague the city. I’m outraged that this person was released so quickly. Like you, I can’t fathom why they were charged with simple assault and will, in all likelihood, skip their court date and not be held accountable for their crimes. In general I don’t understand how and why DC appears to be so lax on crime. Is it the prosecutors, judges, or juries? I’ve served on a grand jury here in the District and it appeared to me that the US Attorneys Office was bringing the right charges for the cases we heard. That said, until there are real consequences for criminal acts in this city, I don’t see much changing.

    • Ally

      Yeah, I’m curious about who made the decision on these charges as well. I served on a grand jury for a month or so and was actually very impressed with the D.A.s and A.D.As, and they seemed to be filing the appropriate charges for the crimes committed. So, is this systemic or an anomaly in terms of the charges being a joke? I’d love to know the back story from the person who actually made the call here.

      • Ally

        And what should have come out of my mouth first: To the OP, I’m so, so sorry you had to go through that! I’m a new Mom and I can’t even imagine how I’d manage if someone came up and tried to assault me or my child (now all within the realm of possibility after hearing about the attempted kidnapping on the other victim’s child!). I’ve lived in the city for nearly 20 years and this is the worst I have EVER seen it. You used to be able to just give up your purse and you’d probably be okay. Now, people are brutally assaulting babies, kids, the elderly, etc, just for fun. I live in Hill East and it’s been a similar set of crimes for us lately.

  • tomtommy

    First, sorry this happened to you.

    Second, unfortunately if the suspect used his hands to cause the injuries, it will frequently be classified as a Simple Assault, particularly when the injuries are as you described (lacerations, bruising, etc.). The injuries would need to be more significant/serious for it to become Aggravated Assault. Or if he used a weapon, then ADW.

    Simple Assault includes a suspect punching someone in the face, for instance, but it also includes the attempt (for example, if the suspect swings at you but misses). Aggravated Assault must include an injury, and that injury must be “serious”, which would be an injury that would be considered especially grave; in other words if you didn’t go to the hospital immediately, you would probably die.

  • Doc

    My understanding of “simple assault” vs “aggravated assault” in DC is that aggravated assault results in the victim requiring hospitalization/medical attention (maybe an attorney can correct me if I’m wrong).

    So unless someone was hospitalized, simple assault is probably the correct charge (although there should have been multiple charges) and they probably could add some other stuff on top of that (disorderly conduct, terroristic threats??) if they wanted to.

    • dat

      In order for assault to rise to the level of aggravated assault, there needs to be a serious bodily injury. See DC Code 22–404.01. Serious bodily injury typically means bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.

      That’s likely why this individual was only charged with simple assault. The bigger question is (1) why he wasn’t charged with other crimes (as others have mentioned) and why he was ticketed and released, rather than held.

      • textdoc

        Thanks for clarifying.

      • Anonymous

        Thanks for the clarification. Still, it seems like someone who commits a serious of simple assaults (and attempted kidnapping?) could at least be arrested.

        • Anonymous

          *series of
          and at least held until sober.

      • blithe

        Thanks for this information. I’m startled, as others are, that this guy was released, that he did not get multiple assault charges, and that there wasn’t some way for the charges to reflect the heinousness of trying to knock someone out of a wheelchair and attempting to kidnap a baby. I’d thought that sometimes charges get minimized to ensure that they stick — but that doesn’t explain why he wasn’t held, or why charge doesn’t reflect the pattern of his behavior, which should be emphasized, not diminished.

  • p

    Serious question: What is the best (and legal) instrument to use to defend oneself in this city, beyond traditional self-defense training? A pocket knife – if used in self defense, are chances still high you get charged with stabbing? A collapsible baton (I’m assuming these aren’t legal)? Pepper spray? Taser? Wild Kat self-defense keychain?

    • HaileUnlikely

      Individual results may vary, but I would go with pepper spray unless I had extensive training to use a knife or baton effectively in self defense. If somebody manages to gain control of my knife or baton and uses it against me, they can kill me with those. If somebody uses my pepper spray against me, which I think is less likely to begin with, it would really really suck, and they might still kill me, but not with my own implement of self-defense that I graciously supplied for them. Unless you have a great deal of training and experience defending yourself against an attack using a knife or a baton, I don’t like your chances of successfully using it to defend yourself against an aggressor who is probably more experienced with fighting and with weapons.

      • FridayGirl

        +1. Unfortuantely most of us are not ninjas, even if we aspire to be.
        Follow-up, I’m sure this has been discussed but is pepper spray legal to buy in DC? Where does one obtain it? I would like to get some now that I’m not out in the boonies of NW anymore.

        • nate

          Looks like you can purchase it from Amazon. Prime too!

        • Anon MPD
        • ash

          I don’t know if it’s legal to buy in DC, but honestly, at this point, I don’t care. I have some (my mom bought for me in NC and I brought back with me). If you can’t find pepper spray anywhere in DC, perhaps VA or MD? Maybe the bear deterrent spray (you can get from Bass Pro Shop) would be equally effective? I mean hell, if someone can punch people in the face and try to steal a baby and gets out with a ticket and slap on the wrist, what the heck are they gonna do to me for possessing pepper spray? I’ll take my chances, if it possessing it doesn’t guarantee my safety, and least I’ll *feel* a bit more safe, and that peace of mind is better than nothing right now.

        • Z

          You can buy pepper spray, but you have to fill out a form to register it and report it to the police if it is stolen. I bought mine at Ace Hardware.

          • ash

            Thanks for the info shawgal and Z!

          • FridayGirl

            Awesome, thanks for all the info to everyone above!

          • emvee

            It can also be found in the hunting section of your local sporting goods store. #funfact

          • AJSE

            Yes, and don’t try to bring it to Nats games or anywhere where they check bags for that matter. I’ve had mine confiscated twice, first at 9:30 and then at the Nats game.

    • Josh

      I don’t know if they’re legal or not, but after the incident at the NoMa metro station where the AU graduate was stabbed to death on July 4th, I started carrying a collapsible baton with me. I’ve never felt unsafe in this city (and I’ve lived here 15 years), but with the increase of all this crazy activity I just wanted something to keep in my bag “just in case.” I’d love to hear from someone knowledgeable if they’re technically legal or not. It won’t change whether I carry it or not, at least not during this summer, but still good to know I suppose.

      • Anon
      • shaw

        +1 on the collapsable baton. I don’t know if they’re legal (I doubt they are) but I don’t walk around by myself at night without one. I figure if I ever have to actually use it I will happily pay the ticket that apparently is all I would receive. The much better plan, though, is to go on and get a gun permit while the process to do it is loose. Doesn’t mean you have to actually get a gun any more than having a drivers license means you have to get a car, but if you decide later you want / need one you can skip a very time consuming permit process.

        • Anonymous

          One thing to consider with collapsible batons and people on drugs like PCP is that short of completely braining them, you may just piss them off. Some people on drugs like that feel no pain, and may turn that baton around on you. See stories of naked dudes running down the highway taking 5-10 cops to be restrained
          I know internet heroes don’t like to hear it, but sometimes it’s better to get away and live to tell about it.

          • textdoc

            +1. The only thing that can’t be used against you is self-defense skills.

      • Emilie504

        It’s not going to do much good in your bag. Time to bring back the fancy walking stick/cane. It looks fashionable (in a Victorian sort of way) and it’s at the ready to give a beating.

        • Ryan

          Yes, lets all learn Bartitsu.

      • all y’all

        Unless you are prepared to be absolutely brutal and violent with that baton you are carrying, don’t do it. If you aren’t prepared to go all the way and very quickly, they will take it from you and bash your head in with it.

    • Unless you are expecting a guy to run up out of nowhere in the middle of the afternoon and punch you in the face, and so have your pepper spray/baton whatever in hand it does you no good. This was probably a 5 second event, complete surprise. Sadly, the response by our officials was not at all a surprise.

    • Eponymous

      I’ve looked into this before. As far as I could tell…
      Tasers are illegal, and pepper spray is supposedly difficult to obtain legally (it has to contain only certain specified chemicals, you have to register it, and last I checked there aren’t any vendors in the District). There’s also a separate law prohibiting “knuckles” and blackjacks (not sure if that covers batons), another prohibiting switchblades, and (here’s the kicker) another prohibiting carrying (open or concealed) of ANY dangerous weapon. So even if you can have a baton or knife, you probably can’t legally carry it.
      Personally, I have a really heavy U-Lock.

      • Necostia

        Second the U-lock approach if you bike often. The Kryptonite Mini-5 fits nicely into a back pocket or you can hang it off the handle bar for quick access. It’s sad to see how I’ve defaulted to a “threat until proven otherwise” approach when biking through Noma or on the MBT recently.

    • Dan

      I support an individual’s right to defend himself/herself. But my gut says 70% of the time, you’re not going to get out your knife/spray/baton quick enough, 20% you won’t use it properly or effectively enough to prevent an assault, and 10% of the time it’ll be turned against you. I think if a man is running around assaulting people, he likely has years of fights under his belt. It’s not going to be a fair fight.

      Be aware of your surroundings. Change out of your silly work shoes and into sneakers before walking home. Hope you’ve been getting your cardio in at the gym.

      • FridayGirl

        Sadly, as much as I want to get some pepper spray, I also agree with this… Ugh. I’d like to think I’m very aware of my surroundings, but VERY bizzare and unpreventable things happen in this city. Like getting hit with stray bullets. And I guess neither pepper spray nor much awareness would help that.

  • N

    I am so sorry this happened to you! I can’t answer all of your questions, but I work in law enforcement, so can provide some general knowledge of the process, specifically to your second question.

    When someone is arrested in DC, they are interviewed by DC Pretrial, who then makes recommendations to the arraigning judge. Ultimately, it is the Judge who makes the decision about release. Typically in DC a person is either going to be released with supervision (which means they are assigned a pretrial officer and have conditions to which they must abide, or they will be sent to jail), based on their record, nature of offense, etc. Sometimes, depending on the severity of their current offense, they will be held without bond pending their trial. Sounds like the former happened in this case, for whatever reason. As far as drug testing, right now, testing for synthetic drugs is difficult, and it is likely that he was not tested upon arrest. Defendants can also decline/refuse to drug test.

    I hope this helps as you try to make sense of this situation. Again, so sorry that this happened to you!

  • John

    My understanding is that this isn’t an MPD problem, but a problem with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the judges hearing criminal cases. DC is unique as a Federal city in that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in part “is responsible not only for the prosecution of all federal crimes, but also for the prosecution of all serious local crime committed by adults”. In other words, local crimes aren’t prosecuted by local employees, but the Feds.

    They have a community prosecution program: http://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/programs/community-prosecution (couldn’t tell you if much of it is real)

    You can also contact the community prosecutor which depends on the ward. There’s general contact information here: http://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/contact It was Roger Kemp for 2d and Trena Carrington for 1d.

    • Doc

      Doesn’t the AUSA (i.e. the Feds) only handle felonies? So simple assault would be handled locally, NOT by the feds.

      • John

        I stand corrected, the DC Attorney General prosecutes misdemeanors (from what I can find, defined as a crime with potential jail time of less than 1 year).

        It seems like the “simple” vs. “aggravated” is more debateable. If the victim required immediate medical attention, could it have been aggravated and therefore a felony? Perhaps the charging decision in this case is MPD http://dccode.org/simple/sections/22-404.htm

        Armchair prosecutors debate!

        • Andre

          The US Attorney prosecutes all felonies and serious misdemeanors. Simple Assault is classifieds as a serious misdemeanor. The Attorney General prosecutes traffic cases and extremely minor criminal cases (urinating in public, possession of an open alcohol container, etc). The US Attorney is very aggressive in prosecuting cases but they have to be realistic. While this incident is extremely traumatic, they have to look at the facts and decide whether a jury would actually find this person guilty aggravated assault or kidnaping or if it even fits the legal definition. When it comes to holding a defendant in jail, one of two determinations must be made at the initial hearing. A defendant must either be classified as a danger to the community or a risk of flight. If a defendant has always shown up for court previously, then you can forget a hold based on that. Unfortunately, Simple Assault (even multiple counts) is not classified as a dangerous or violent offense or even a felony for that manner. While there are other hold that may apply (probation/parole holds, pending felony holds, etc.) they are not always used if the Court feels that the defendant can be supervised effectively. D.C. is very progressive when it comes to bail reform and sentencing for that manner (often to the detriment of the community) but the city is also working with a relatively small jail with a federally mandated cap which is enforced by a federal judge. The jail and its annex holds less than 3,000 people and most of those are people that are so sketchy that you would freak out at the idea of them walking the streets. For every new body that goes in, one has to come out, so judges are constantly under pressure to review their calendars for cases that may be suitable for some form of release. When it comes to sentencing however, the D.C. system seems out of touch. Any sentence over a year is served in a federal prison, so judges are not hampered by bed space in those cases. Most believe that they are progressive and representing the wishes of the community in applying minimal sentences. In reality however, it can also be viewed as quite callous. The vast majority of people who live in the worst neighborhoods in D.C. get up and go to work everyday. They want a safe environment for their children just like everyone else. When you continually go soft on the few who wreak havoc on the community (believe me, it’s the same few over and over again), you are telling these people that their daily quality of life doesn’t matter. The judge doesn’t live near the area where a guy continually robs or assault people on the street or sells drugs on the corner (check out how bad they hammer someone who robs somebody up there). It’s the law abiding people from that community that have to deal with this person coming right back in their face again. This can lead to apathy when it comes to crime because there is no point in reporting anything to the police if you know that it will not result in this bully being removed from the community. It will only make them seek revenge on the person who testified or called the police. I typed this very quickly, so please excuse any grammar mistakes or typos. I just wanted to get this info out there.

          • anone

            Thanks so much for this excellent explanation. So helpful.

  • Anony

    Just like that guy who was let go with no explanation and proceeded to stab the guy to death on the train at NoMa. Do the judges and MPD (don’t know who is responsible) have any conscience?

    • Anony

      From reading it appears this is not MPD’s responsibility

  • Michael

    We have to prosecute slam dunk cases like this or criminals begin to feel they can act with impunity. If a case where the suspect is caught and identified almost immediately cannot be dispensed with properly, what hope do we have that criminals and potential criminals will be less concerned about getting caught than how they will carry out their activity.

    • anonymous

      Being released does not mean he is not being prosecuted. In DC, only repeat offenders or alleged first offenders of certain violent crimes are held pending trial. Everyone else is processed and released pending trial.

  • newenglanderindc

    It seems to me that the US attorney’s office, being federal, is largely unaccountable to the residents of the District. Would love to hear their response to their inability to appropriately handle cases like this.


  • nightborn

    So sorry this happened to you! Things are really out of control in the city this summer.

  • #1 and #2 you should direct to your local precinct.

  • Annon MPD (2)

    A few things:

    1. The Brass instructs (officials can override classification of charges from beat cops) what charges they should be charged with. I have heard stories from co-workers of a robbery Force and Violnce being charged as simple assault and Theft 2. They do this to keep down the felony reports so their stats look better at the end of the year.

    2. MPD has no control if a person is held or not until trial. That is totally up to the USAO or the district judge.

    3. Most arrests made are plead down to a smaller charged either (speculating here) it’s easier to win for the USAO or it entices the defendant to take the plea.

    4. DC doesn’t have bail, 9.5 times out of 10 people are released on their own accord to promise to show up to court. I have made an arrest of a man that had more than 4 warrants, one for failing to appear, and the judge let him out the next day on his signature promising to show up. Can anyone take a guess if he showed up?

    • anonymous

      Wow! Number 4 especially tells me just how weak we are on crime. I could never be an MPD officer- you do all this work to catch the bad guys, and our criminal justice system just slaps them on the wrist (barely even that) and releases them back into the city to harm others once again. Absolute craziness, but also extremely dysfunctional!

    • dat

      Thanks for the info and thanks for your service.

    • Susan

      What is the reasoning behind no bail??

      • Annon MPD (2)

        The reason I have been told is the questionality of keeping people in jail longer than need be. Critics of bail state that it holds poor defendants in jail longer than richer defendants. Which, I def can see that argument and personally (as a resident and cop in DC) believe it too be true. But, to my knowledge DC is the only city or state that does this. I may be totally wrong on that though.

        • Milz

          Illinois, Kentucky, Oregon and Wisconsin.

          Other states have outlawed commercial bail bonding

        • Anon MPD

          My brother is correct. It’s actually a wonderful concept. Think about it. Either you’re dangerous to society or you’re not. If you’re dangerous, you shouldn’t be allowed to pay more to be released.

          I think the problem is that the bar gets set really high to be held, which means that lots of lower level people get released. And sadly in DC, a guy who runs down K St punching people is probably going to fall in that category.

        • Anonymous

          Yes, while it may seem frustrating, the use of bail in other cities can be pretty ugly, too. People spending lengthy amounts of time in jail waiting for trial on small, non-violent crimes simply because they are broke. Or pleading to crimes they didn’t commitment because they can’t afford bail. This goes hand in hand with municipalities using bail as a revenue raiser.
          We may question how the bar is set as to who is dangerous or a flight risk, but I think our system is more just.

      • N

        Most of the time, people who are arrested cannot afford to post bail and sit in jail until their trial or until their case is dismissed. Instead of that, in DC, defendants are released with conditions and an officer to report to. If they break those conditions and the judge deems it appropriate, they will be sent to jail at that point.

        The judge hears the arguments from prosecution and defense, as well as Pretrial’s recommendations and makes a decision about release or no release.

      • Here’s a bit detailing some of the controversy about bail:

    • Milz

      DC does have the use of bail. Unlike many jurisdictions (all but four including dc) it has a clause stating “A judicial officer may not impose a financial condition…that does not result in the preventive detention of the person”. Essentially they can not set a bond that individuals cannot pay to prevent the use of money as tool to prevent one’s release.

      Research has shown that money bail amounts have little to no correlation between the likelihood to re offending or appearing in court. Defendants deemed “low-risk” to be re-arrested or fail to appear at court are often given higher bail amounts than those deemed medium to high risk.

      80% of defendants in DC are released without money bond, 15% are held w/o bond, and 5% have financial bails. 88% of defendants released w/o bail appear for court and complete their pretrial period without a new arrest.

      Each year 18,000 of those released individuals are supervised during their pretrial period by the PSA. Only 12% of that 18,000 are arrested on new charges. In Kentucky, another jurisdiction that does not use commercial bonds, only 7% of released offenders are re arrested state wide.

      As far as the four warrants, it all depends on the kinds of warrants. Most states will not extradite for misdemeanor warrants. On certain felony warrants certain felony warrants states will not extradite beyond a certain area (it is common to see “will only extradite east of the Mississippi”). So it is easy for someone to have 4 open warrants for failing to appear on a possession of marijuana charge in MD. No judge will hold that against a defendant. If MD doesn’t want to extradite why should DC taxpayers house the individual because of it?

      Violent crime is up across the country right now. Recent events have put more eyes on police causing them to act more cautiously than before. I couldn’t imagine the difficulty of their job. However, filling our jails with individuals pending charges won’t make our streets any safer or communities any better.

      Good read for those interested in Bail Reform https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/07/20/theres-never-been-a-better-time-for-bail-reform/

      • N

        Yes to all of this.

      • Annon MPD (2)

        Again, as a resident and a cop here in DC, I actually believe a no bail system is best. But, in regards to my original post, we in the city don’t arrest someone who we can’t extradite. For instance if it said only states West of the Mississippi, that person would be sent on their way and not arrested. So, with all that being said, all warrants that I arrested him for were extraditable. But, again that doesn’t come down to MPD or even the USAO, it’s the judge that makes the decision.

    • Petworth dude

      Wow…your first item is really unsettling.

    • U

      Thanks Annon MPD for the clarification.
      As for #1, I’ve heard similar comments (mostly on here, some directly) before. Seems like the sort of thing that, if confirmed, should make front page headlines, at least locally. Without jumping on the anti-policing bandwagon that’s so popular of late, what can we, as citizens, do to spotlight and reform the bad apples, understanding that some of them may hold a lot of power at MPD?
      This feels important — corrupt, even — and I feel like a helpless bystander.

      • anon

        I’m with @U re: feeling helpless. Juking the stats isn’t a new concept, but when the people in power don’t have an incentive to reform (in fact, the opposite), how can “we” improve things? (Whistle-blowing? It would have to be really loud and really powerful…)

        I completely understand the OP’s shock and outrage! (I’m so sorry that happened to you, OP, and thank you for sharing your story to further this dialogue.)

        Also, thanks, MPD Anons for your service and your willingness to engage/educate!

  • technicality?

    I’m so sorry this happened to you, but I think that the powers that be probably were within the law…Felony aggravated assault requires that the person knowingly or purposefully causing serious bodily injury and under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life, that person intentionally or knowingly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of serious bodily injury to another person, and thereby causes serious bodily injury.

    If he was high, the knowingly or purposefully part can be hard to prove, and I think “serious bodily injury” (not “actual bodily injury”) under the law in DC generally requires the type of injury that would require hospitalization, not just a laceration or bruising.

  • also anon

    I’m sorry this happened to you and I would like answers to your questions as well. I agree this should have been handled differently by MPD. Thank you for sharing.

  • Bitter Elitist

    This is asinine.

    Tickets are for parking, open containers, loud music and littering. Jail is for assault.

    When people wonder why long-timers don’t bother with calling the cops, here’s why. This goon will see you again and then what?

    • Anon MPD

      The summons is to reappear in court, but they usually don’t. But it’s not the kind of ticket you just pay.

      • Anonymous

        Thanks for clarifying.

      • jdegg

        Anon MPD 1 and 2: Do you have any insight you can share about what is driving the spike in shootings, homicides, and violent crime? Is the synthetic drug claim correct? And does anyone in charge at MPD say anything about more cops, more vice, etc?

        • Anon MPD

          Synthetic Marijuana.

          Hahahahahahahahaha, Okay sorry.. Had to get that out.

          Well, when you see shootings through the roof, it means that people are carrying firearms. And if they’re carrying firearms, it means they’re not afraid of getting caught. There’s two reasons for that. First, there isn’t am appetite for stop and frisk, even though done correctly it’s simply police work. Second, the charges are getting knocked down and so people with guns aren’t getting enough jail time to make the prospect of being caught outweigh carrying.

          Why don’t the leadership admit that their policies aren’t working? I mean, it’s like a lot of organizations. We keep doubling down on terrible tactics like light towers, fixed posts and, now, tents.

          • Annon MPD (2)

            Haha light towers. Epic waste of time. Also Annon MPD may have better information about thenhomicide on July 4th. But I totally agree that most K2 calls are for the user being high and harming themselves not other people.

        • Annon MPD (2)

          A few things on this, things I know for a fact:

          The spike of crime is not because of an influx of high capacity magazines.

          The K2 claim, has given MPD more calls for service, besides PCP, K2 is a scary drug but other than the homicide on July 4th I haven’t heard of any homicide happening because the suspect was high on K2 or over K2. (k2= synthetic marjuhina)

          We need officer badly, I have heard that the department is making retires stay an extra 90 days. The last I heard any where between 800-1200 officers can retire by January 2016, if half of that leaves and they are forced to stay an extra 90 days, next summer will be even worse with the lack of officers we have. Not only that but the newer officers (1-7 years, myself included) are leaving in troves. Like I have said in previous threads my class graduated between 20 and 30 officers, and only half of us are left. Most major departments do not have this type of turn over rate. The reason for the newer officers leaving have many reasons and could be a whole thread in itself.

          Vice helps because their task is to investigate drug crimes and crews. With the lack of patrol officers, they don’t have the time to do it nor the resources. The district detectives have cases loads like no one can imagine so they don’t have the time either. Vice units were good to be the “enforces” for crews. While, I have been here, I have seen “crews” being held in check and now they’re off the chain because they know no one is investigating them and patrol officers don’t have the time to do it.

          But, this is my opinion and my co-workers may agree or disagree with me.

          Also sorry for some secretracy with numbers and all, I can’t get fired before I get hired some where else!

          • jdegg

            Thank you. I appreciate this. It helps me know what questions to ask my councilman and reps.

            I hate this summer. I was riding my bike by NOMA on July 4 when the stabbing was being investigated. And I just thought it was the lousy Metro breaking down again.

  • Anon

    Just saw a crazy guy assault a male previously unknown to him in a group of four males and then harass them for two blocks. This was on K and 12th downtown. There wasn’t any injury – and kudos to those guys for not trying to retaliate. Wasn’t close enough to hear what was being said since I ran with my stroller in the other direction. What is going on here?

    • xminustdc

      Ugggggh. A very large man harassed my boyfriend at 13/K last week. The dude walked up to my bf (who was waiting at the light on the southwest corner, at Franklin Square), snuck up behind him and started screaming at him unintelligibly. The other people waiting at the corner backed away. The guy followed my boyfriend up to the firehouse at 13/L, stopped, and continued to scream at him while my bf hurriedly walked away. Sounds pretty minor and “just another one of those crazies”, but having been mugged a couple of years ago and slashed in the face, he was pretty shaken up.

      I told him to call the cops next time, not that I know what that would accomplish given the altercation didn’t turn physical. But still. I realize that you have to always be aware of your surroundings, living in a city, but oftentimes that’s not enough.

      I totally don’t blame you for running away. I probably would’ve done the same exact thing.

    • Euclid

      Yeah, so much crazy. Some guy was standing in the middle of Calvert at 18th pretending to shoot every car that passed by a couple weeks ago. It’s not cute.

  • el

    I know I should stop reading the news because I’m getting really anxious and having trouble sleeping lately because of it. But I like to know what’s going on in my neighborhood :(

    • llindsa


  • madmonk28

    Could you imagine the world of trouble you’d be in for in most places if you walked around punching people in the face and than tried to steal a baby?

  • Michael

    Thank you an on MPD for the clarification. While we all know at some level that there is suppression of charges for political reasons it does not make anyone feel better. I for one would prefer to get the raw numbers so I know what I am dealing with rather than living in a fantasy world thinking things are not as bad as they are. No one feels at any level that someone like this is going to learn their lesson and go and sin no more. This is not some kid spray painting a wall. This is a legit crime. What can ordinary citizens do to prevent the cooking of books.

    • Annon MPD (2)

      Honestly, I have no idea. In the end, the numbers are held by political powers and they can be used how ever they want. Also, with the shrinking force and officers not having employment friendly brass, a lot are leaving so there will be less people to speak out. Also, the retaliation that comes also won’t help the situation. I love this city, it’s beautiful, wonderful, and could be a great place to raise a family and work in. But, the higher ups are making me look at other departments.

      The only possible way is to elect a mayor, City council, and appoint a chief that is more invested in realizing the problem than hiding it to make it look like more a utopia. The argument that it is better then the 90’s, is true but I refuse to let that be an excuse. We should strive to make it better and better every year. Instead, we hide numbers and classify things to make it look like it is helping. But in reality it isn’t.

      Sadly, the city management we have now has no interest in those things. So in turn, it will drive good officers from this city to other parts of the country that we will feel more welcomed.

  • FormerDelRay

    Cities are collections of people, and therefore have the culture of their inhabitants. That’s just common sense. Based on that, it’s hard for me not to think that “DC” is soft on crime because a significant percentage of the population here has some experience with incarceration (either on their own or through a family member) and doesn’t trust the police for whatever reason. If you control the government and other reigns of power which make the laws and you know that you or someone you love (especially your 10 year old lil’ gun slinger) is going to have a run in with the authorities, you wil probably try to stack the deck in his or her favor. Et voila! We have DC!

    • jcm

      So we lock up so many of our citizens that they constitute a powerful voting block and control the city, and yet we are “soft on crime”? What exactly would constitute tough on crime?

      • FormerDelRay

        We don’t lock them up. VA does, which is why they don’t go to VA to commit crimes. They’re not stupid.

        For an example of soft on crime, see the post on the blog of the DC police union about the lack of penalties handed down for driving ATMs like maniacs through the city. The police, who are frustrated, arrest them and the courts slap them on the wrists. The following is an excerpt:

        Of the 33 defendants who were found guilty, DC Superior Court Judges doled out 371 days in jail, averaging about 12 days in jail per defendant. The interesting thing was this: All 371 days of jail time issued were also suspended. This means that none of these defendants were sentenced to serve even one hour of actual jail time. Furthermore, even though the fine is set at a maximum of $250, only two defendants were ordered to pay any fine at all. One defendant was ordered to pay $50, the other, $150. The remaining 31 were fined nothing. (Note: All of the 33 defendants were ordered to pay $50 into the Victims of Violent Crime Act fund, for a total sum of $1,650.) Another interesting fact was that a number of these defendants were multiple offenders. At least five of the subjects we looked into had been arrested more than once, for the same offense; however, none of them saw increased penalties. It appears that operating these illegal vehicles in the District carries less of a penalty than running a red light or even making a prohibited right turn on red, both of which are $150, in your legal, registered vehicle. It even seems that speeding 11 mph over the posted limit, the fine for which is $100, is worse than ATV and dirt bike mischief. All in all, the DC Council and Superior Court seem to agree that driving 36 mph on Massachusetts Avenue is inherently more of a violation and danger to the District than the precarious riders that can be seen all over YouTube.

        • jcm

          If they don’t go to Virginia to commit crimes then how does Virginia manage to lock them up? Is it just a pre-emtpive thing?

          • FormerDelRay


    • textdoc

      In 2014 about 10% of D.C. residents had criminal records, according to a Washington Post editorial on the “ban the box” campaign.

      • FormerDelRay

        We must explore this issue no further because it’s heading into taboo areas in DC discussions.

        • Annon MPD (2)

          I was once told by a metro police officer that he arrested a guy twice for the same violation for carrying a gun without a permit (the suspect was on a metro subway car), once in DC and once in VA. When he arrested him in DC, the suspect laughed saying “I’ll be out tomorrow and it will be no papered”. The Metro Officer told me that is exactly what happened. The case was plead down and the suspect got probation and he was back on the street the next day. A week later, same guy, same offense but in VA was arrested for carrying a gun on a metro car. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to five years. I am not saying VA is correct in their sentencing but DC is wrong for throwing the case out just because he had a gun on him and he did nothing else.

  • java

    Hi, I’m sorry this happened to you. I saw you out there right after it happened. It could have been me. I am generally not in that area. However, I now have some meetings in a bldg. on that street. I took metro to Union Station and walked down that street (1st street) around 8:00 am or maybe a little earlier. I was a little surprised to see a police officer standing w/ his bike at the first corner down the street and then an officer (no bike) standing on the next corner. They were both on the opposite side of the street from Union Station. I assumed that there was perhaps more problems w/ the DC Central Union Shelter in that area. There seems like much more homeless and perhaps mentally ill in that area that in past years. I came out for lunch but didn’t see any officers then. I came out of the meeting just minutes before you were attacked. I saw you standing there telling others what had happened. It was scary. There were several police cars around the area. I have another meeting there next week. I’m a little scared. At a recent neighborhood meeting Kathy Lanier stated that she is very unhappy with is it the Attorney General’s office?? letting these people go. Personally, I like Kathy. The Mayor not so much. We’ve lived here for years and this is the first time I’ve really felt scared to walk around the city alone. Again, sorry this happened to you. Take care.

  • anonymouse_dianne

    I just want to thank the MPDers for chiming in here and help us be better informed. Thank you for your service.

    • FormerDelRay

      I second that. I also sympathize with the police and would like to support them, but I’m not sure how. I’ve called the Mayor and Council Members and expressed my concerns about the police attrition and some other things. I’m not confident it does any good.

      • SC

        A massive demonstration at the mayor’s next ribbon cutting (or other public event)? Bring the press along. Find out who was the judge that let this guy go and also protest outside of his/her office? Bad idea? Good idea?

  • Euclid

    Oh DC, 19 years might be enough.
    You just bore me more and more,
    I’m falling out of love with you.

  • JL

    This is why people need to put pressure on the new DC Attorney General. This is some bullsh*t. This idiot should be in jail. Sounds like the court system is the real problem. These people need to be thrown out and fired.

  • Dream

    I do not condone any one hurting or violating any one for any reason. My family has lived in DC all of my life, even my great grandparents. When a person of color, Black / African American, commits a crime under the influence of drugs / something or mental illness, we need to give him the chair lock them up and throw away the key, no bond? While White / European people use the excuse of drugs, blame the dealer, or they didn’t have a bed for him in the mental institution so it is the systems fault. Hispanics commit crimes found to be illegal immigrants, remain here not deported commit more crime and I’m not hearing chair, life in jail and no bond. My mother’s house was broken into, my car was stolen a few years ago, my truck before that and most recently my motorcycle was stolen from the government’s parking lot where I worked last year, I feel helpless. Even when I was hit by another car and pulled my wrecked car up beside the officer to tell him, all he said was call my insurance company. They had attitudes as if they were too busy to be disturbed from sitting talking to each other. The young folks getting high and doing wrong need someone to show them a better way, be given hope not harassed or looked down upon because they are not as well off as the new DC / NOMA (No More African American) neighborhood. My brother was pulled over and they gave him the riot act until he showed them who he worked for their excuse was he looked like the someone but his license told them he was not that person. DC is worse now than ever when it comes to racism and the haves and have nots.

    • Michael

      Seriously. This is not a race thing. Anyone who is violated should get justice. I have been pulled over in DC and across the country. That is a problem no doubt, but not a reason to not expect the criminal justice system to do its job. Parents need to teach their kids. That is not everyone else’s job. If you were assaulted I believe your assailant should be prosecuted. No consideration for race. BTW the majority of people being violated are Black!

  • DC_Chica

    This is outrageous – thank you to the OP for sharing their experience, because as others have noted, it might have gone unnoticed by local media. I would urge you to contact everyone you can think of demanding an explanation, and please give PoP an update. I plan on sending this story to my council member asking what happened, even though this is not my neighborhood.

  • Sophia

    I’m so sorry this happened to you. As a member of the NoMa community, this is particularly upsetting to hear, as I walk on First Street every day. It’s shocking to hear how this was handled, and that an image of the perpetrator wasn’t circulated since they released him so promptly.

  • JCDC

    I am very concerned. I have only lived in Shaw for about 4 months on the promise from eager real estate agents that this place was really turning a corner. Foolish us. Now we’re stuck. The latest violence should not be a reason to panic and leave – we will stay; hopefully, businesses stay too and the planned businesses continue to move forward. But there is an incompatibility between the violence occurring here by residents from the public housing blocks and the new-comers who are looking to grow and develop the area. It’s going to go one way or the other, unfortunately.

  • lou

    This happened with the shooting on Maryland Ave. NE at 8th. A couple of cars had their windows blown out, but fortunately no one was hurt even though the guy shot down the street about 6 to 8 times. At noon on a Sunday.

    The cops classified it as “destruction of property. WTF?!

    Here’s a story about the community’s views of that categorization. http://www.fox5dc.com/news/local-news/9769184-story


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