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What, exactly, happened before Metro Transit Police officers threw Dwight Harris from his wheelchair on U Street last week?
According to what one officer involved said in a sworn statement, Harris “punched” the transit cops. He was booked for assaulting a police officer and for having an open container of alcohol in the May 19 incident.
If video of the episode hadn’t emerged, the District’s criminal justice system would have quietly chugged along, with the transit cop’s account perhaps representing the most trusted version of the event. Instead, the officers involved in the arrest have been put on administrative leave pending an investigation.
That sworn statement says Harris was drinking a can of Stack High Gravity Malt Liquor when two officers approached him outside the U Street/Cardozo Metro station. Harris smelled of alcohol and had “slurred speech and bloodshot eyes.” The conflict came about when the officers tried to cite Harris for drinking in public, says the statement.
“The defendant refused to identify himself,” the statement says. “The defendant began to drive away.” The cops stopped him, the statement continues, and Harris was informed he was going to be arrested. When they tried to cuff him, though, Harris decided to scrap.
“The defendant resisted, began to swing his arms and [began] punching both officers,” the statement reports. His “flailing” arms made contact with one officer’s arm and also threw Harris out of his wheelchair. “Flailing” and “punching” isn’t what we see in the video, though.
Metro hasn’t returned a request for comment.
Photo by man pikin Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0