D.C. Police: Friend or Foe?
Yesterday afternoon, I met a local resident who told me some disturbing allegations concerning members of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
Angela, who lives on the unit block of O Street NW, told me that MPD personnel beat her 23-year-old son on July 18, when he ran from police. The police were responding to reports of drug activity, and her son happened to be in the target area (two blocks from his home). For whatever reason, he ran when confronted by the police.
According to Angela, several police officers beat her son and one "stomped" on his head. Her son sustained substantial injuries (concussions) that have sent him to the hospital three times. He possessed no drugs, and it appears he put up no resistance. I did not interview her son, but he came out and stood in the doorway of their home. He did not have a large build, and it appeared that a single officer easily should have been able to restrain him. The look in his eyes suggested bewilderment and fear.
Angela alleges that, since the time of the beating, police officers have mocked her son, calling him names relating to the fact that he ran. In addition, Angela believes that her family is being harassed because she told police that she would file a complaint. Every weekend, a large police vehicle (the size of a motor home) has been stationed just steps from her door. As we spoke, such a vehicle stood idling with the engine running but no officer in sight. (Update 8/25: another neighbor has informed me that the police vehicle was regularly stationed on that street long before the incident in question.)
Allegations of excessive use of force represent the worst possible outcome for any community. In some cases, the true criminals will continue to elude justice in part because the residents are too afraid of or angry at the police to assist them with their duties.
These are serious allegations, but the police department must be given the opportunity to investigate and determine the truth or falsity of the allegations. I will be in touch with MPD and look forward to an eventual response.