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On April 23, 2008, Larry Rice Jr. had made the mistake of visiting a home on the 5800 block of Fields Place NE. D.C. Police soon raided the home on suspicion of drug activity; the officers did not have a warrant and found no drugs or any weapons. Rice tried to flee, according to court records, by attempting to crawl through a back-room window.

Rice managed to get his head out the window when Officer John Stathers found him.

Rice did not have a history of violent crimes. He had not been committing any crimes that day nor did he make any violent moves toward the officer. He was unarmed.

Stathers drew his weapon and grabbed Rice’s leg. According to a civil complaint filed in U.S. District Court, Stathers then fired his weapon striking Rice in the gut.

Rice was then lowered to the floor.  The complaint then states:

“While on the ground, Officer Stathers and Officer Derek Starliper began hitting Plaintiff in the head and screaming at Plaintiff, demanding that Plaintiff provide his name. Plaintiff continuously indicated to the officers that he had been shot and was bleeding. The officers continuously yelled profanities at Plaintiff, demanding that he keep his mouth shut.”

According to the complaint, Rice was then dragged to the front of the house where he remained for at least 30 minutes. No officers administered first aid or treated his gunshot wound. Eventually, 911 was called. Rice sustained a gunshot wound to his abdomen, a lacerated right liver, a lacerated diaphragm, a gastric injury, and respiratory failure. During his hospital stay, he had emergency surgery. Later during his stay, he got pneumonia.

For several weeks, Rice remained in the intensive care unit at Prince George’s Hospital. He was hospitalized for more than a month. Since then, he’s had a subsequent surgery on his lungs.

Rice was charged with “intimidating, impeding, interfering with and retaliating against a government official.” The case was quickly tossed out. The lawsuit was filed in February.

The D. C. Police Department appears to have cleared the officers. As is typical, a lawsuit seems required to get the facts out and objectively analyzed.

But AG Peter Nickles has moved to bar the public from seeing a significant chunk of this case. Nickles and Co. at the Office of the Attorney General filed for a protective order that would cover the officers’ personnel files and the department’s training manuals.

In other words, Nickles doesn’t want you to know if these officers had previously fired their weapons or had been accused of excessive force in the past. He also doesn’t want you to know how the police department actually trains its officers on when they can draw their guns. The order was granted.

Nickles has requested a very broad protective order in the Pershing Park case. That request is still pending.

*photo by Darrow Montgomery.