UPDATED 4:15 A.M.
Ward 8 Councilmember and former mayor Marion Barry was arrested Saturday night by a U.S. Park Police officer and charged with misdemeanor stalking.
According to Park Police spokesperson Sgt. David Schlosser, the incident leading to the arrest took place at around 8:45 p.m. An officer on patrol in Anacostia Park noticed a pair of cars in close proximity; the driver of one of the cars attempted to get the officer’s attention, and the officer subsequently pulled both cars over near the intersection of Anacostia Drive and Good Hope Road SE. The officer spoke first to the driver who had made the summons, an unidentified woman, and “she indicated there was some sort of discussion, dispute, angst,” Schlosser says.
The officer then spoke to the driver of the second car, Barry. “Apparently,” Schlosser says, “because of that conversation, [the officer] found sufficient cause [for Barry] to be placed under arrest.” Schlosser did not know if any other persons were in the vehicles, but said that Barry was the sole person charged in connection with the incident.
The officer, Schlosser says, is a New York native and had no idea who Barry was prior to making the arrest.
Park Police detectives consulted with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and a misdemeanor charge of stalking has been entered against Barry, who was given “citation release” on his personal recognizance. When LL left Park Police headquarters at about 3:30 a.m., Barry was on his way to D.C. central lockup to be processed for release. His case will be adjudicated in D.C. Superior Court.
Stalking, in the D.C. criminal code, is defined as when a person “on more than one occasion engages in conduct with the intent to cause emotional distress to another person or places another person in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury by willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly following or harassing that person, or who, without a legal purpose, willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or harasses another person.”
Schlosser says Barry was “very cooperative” during his booking.
Barry’s spokesperson, Natalie Williams, met with Barry before his release. “He’s doing as well as to be expected,” she said this morning. Asked what he was doing in the park tonight, shortly before the Mall fireworks show, she said only that he was “enjoying his 4th of July holiday.” Williams declined to identify the woman in the other car.
[UPDATE, 2:05 P.M: A person with knowledge of the situation identifies the woman as Donna Watts, who Barry has been dating for about a year. Barry is about to begin a press conference at the John A. Wilson Building.]
WRC-TV first reported the arrest during their 11 p.m. newscast.
Barry’s had his share of run-ins with Park Police. He was previously arrested by the force in 2002, after traces of marijuana and cocaine were found in his car, stopped in the Buzzard Point area of Southwest. No charges were filed, and Barry later claimed the drugs were planted. In 2006, Park Police officers stopped him for driving too slowly, leading him to make allegations that he was being “targeted” by federal law enforcement.
Barry, of course, has been on probation since 2005 for not filing or paying income taxes for several years; after again failing to file a return last year, he had his probation extended in May until 2011. It’s unclear what effect this incident will have on his probation.
ORIGINAL POST: Ward 8 Councilmember and former mayor Marion Barry is in police custody tonight.
WRC-TV first reported the arrest, calling it for a domestic-related or stalking charge.
A person with close ties with Barry confirms the arrest, and says he is in custody at the U.S. Park Police lockup in Anacostia Park. It is unclear if Park Police made the arrest; Barry was previously arrested by that force in 2002, on a cocaine possession charge in the Buzzard Point area of Southwest.
UPDATE, 11:50 P.M.: A Park Police officer answering the phone tonight at force headquarters declined to comment on the arrest.
Anthony Motley, a Barry confidante, confirms that Park Police made the arrest but had few other details. “We’re in the information-gathering stage right now,” he says.
Barry appeared this morning at the annual Palisades 4th of July parade, arriving with Motley and riding alone atop a Chrysler convertible. He gladly posed for numerous photos with paradewatchers.
UPDATE, 12:55 A.M.: LL is reporting live from the ‘media staging area’ outside Park Police headquarters in Anacostia Park. Reporters are here from Channel 4 and Channel 7.
LL went to the main entrance of the facility, where an officer informed him that a spokesperson would be out ‘shortly.’ Waiting in the lobby were an unidentified woman, Motley, and spokesperson Natalie Williams, who told LL that they had not received any information from police, including a charge.
UPDATE, 1:35 A.M.: WaPo has a story up, with scant comment by Park Police Chief Sal Lauro and longtime Barry lawyer Fred Cooke.
UPDATE, 2:10 A.M.: Park Police spokesperson Sgt. David Schlosser is in the headquarters lobby, speaking to Barry’s people. He says a briefing is coming ‘real soon.’
UPDATE, 3:29 P.M.: Marion Barry on Arrest: Friend Donna Watts “Betrayed” Me
Photo by Darrow Montgomery