On Sept. 23, 1997, Thomas Jeffers finished his shift at Mill Stone Coffee and headed to his Capitol Heights home a bit earlier than usual. When he opened the front door, he says, he saw a man standing naked in his apartment. Jeffers thought he had the wrong place. Then, his live-in girlfriend, Lisa Agee, walked out of the bathroom dressed in only a T-shirt, according to Jeffers. Fearing that Agee had been raped, Jeffers says he asked the man, “What the hell are you doing in my house?” The man didn’t answer, Jeffers later testified.
Jeffers asked twice more, and the man finally replied, “What the fuck do you think was going on?” according to Jeffers’ testimony. Jeffers says he then punched the man in the mouth. Agee pleaded with her boyfriend to leave the man alone and promised to tell him everything later. To no avail: Jeffers popped him again. “I tried to take his damn head off. I had to protect myself,” said Jeffers in an interview.
Then the man, according to Jeffers’ account, retreated to the dresser and grabbed a gun. “Back the fuck up or I’ll kill your bitch ass,” the man warned, according to Jeffers. He then put on his clothes and took off. “I truly think he would have killed me,” Jeffers said.
Later, Jeffers pressed Agee to identify her paramour. As Jeffers discovered, the stranger was not a gun-toting street thug, so he didn’t have to call the cops. In fact, a cop was already therethe naked man was Detective Anthony Johnson, a celebrated Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer.
Since the incident occurred while Johnson was allegedly on duty, MPD Assistant Chief Sonya Proctor has proposed firing him from the force for dereliction of duty. Last Wednesday, MPD’s panel review board held a hearing on the case and heard testimony from Jeffers, Agee, and Johnson himself.
In his testimony, Johnson said that he had driven that day into Maryland to drop off a homicide witness. On returning to the 7th District station house, he decided to visit Agee at her apartment. The two hadn’t seen each other in a year, according to Agee’s testimony.
When he arrived at 2 p.m., Agee was sitting at her kitchen table eating cereal, according to her testimony. She said Johnson smirked and then moved to the living room. A few seconds later, he appeared in front of Agee naked. She testified that the two then had sex. Jeffers came home just after they finished.
“I had no intentions of doing what I did,” Johnson said on the stand.
Johnson’s lawyer, former MPD Homicide Commander Lou Hennessy, offered a simple defense for his client’s behavior: He was on lunch break. To prove his point, Hennessy called on Robert Stewart, executive director of the National Organization of Blacks in Law Enforcement and a 22-year MPD veteran. “[Lunch] is the [officers’] time to do what they see fit,” said Stewart, who wrote the department’s labor policy.
Agee and Johnson said the entire incidentfrom sex to the fightlasted 10 minutesa significant detail for the panel review board. Under MPD regulations, all officers are entitled to a 30-minute lunch break. On the stand, Johnson testified that the round trip from 7D to Agee’s apartment took 14 minutes. Counting sack time and truck time, that left him six minutes to spare.
Hennessy also called on an array of cops and prosecutors to vouch for Johnson’s credentials as an officer. Thomas Connolly, a former assistant U.S. Attorney, testified that Johnson had helped him obtain convictions in 59 cases in 1994 and 1995, and said it would be a “sin” to remove him from the force.
Johnson’s midday dalliance became a departmental matter only hours after it occurred. After Agee identified the naked interloper, Jeffers says he stormed the 7th District station in search of Johnson. Instead of settling his score with Johnson, however, Jeffers started brawling with Sgt. Vernon Gundger. The two exchanged some shoves and errant haymakers before Gundger called for reinforcements. According to Jeffers, the cops beat him into submission, causing a concussion and bruised ribs.
The panel review board will reach a decision on Johnson’s employment status in late July.
After the hearing, Jeffers said he felt burned by one of MPD’s finest and his pals at the station house. Not only did he suffer embarrassment, but, he says, he lost about $7,000 because of hospital bills and missed work.
“My only crime,” says Jeffers, “is that I came home early.”CP