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Maybe you are sick of hearing about the DeOnte Rawlings case. The 14-year-old was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer on September 17, 2007. That’s a long time ago. By now, the off-duty cops have been cleared by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the D.C. Police Department. Law enforcement contends that Rawlings had fired on the officers—-James Haskel and Anthony Clay—-first and was riding Haskel’s stolen minibike. Officer Haskel only returned fire in self defense.
In this series, City Desk has set out to chronicle the case’s oddities and various headscratchers. You can read part one here, part two here, and part three here. In this installment, we present a curious incident that took place shortly after the Rawlings shooting.
According to the D.C. Police’s preliminary investigative report, the shooting drew a very high-profile crowd to the scene at Highland Dwellings: Mayor Adrian Fenty, Chief Cathy Lanier, Asst. Chief Willie Dandridge, 7D Command Joel Maupin, Commander Alfred Durham, Special Operations Division Commander Patrick Burke, Acting Asst. Chief in the Office of Professional Responsibility Matthew Klein, Capt. Melvin Gresham, and various watch commanders and Force Investigation detectives.
One person on the scene actually found a red minibike—Det. K. Goldberg. By the time he arrived, Rawlings had been transported to Children’s Hospital and the scene had been secured, the report states. Goldberg states that he began canvassing the neighborhood for evidence.
Goldberg walked into a courtyard surrounded by 638 and 650 Atlantic Street SE. He goes on to state in the report:
“[There] was a group of people that appeared to [be] juveniles in front of and along side 650 Atlantic St. SE. DC. This group was made up of boys and girls. I noticed a group of four or five young males that had a red framed mini bike on a cement porch that appeared to be in front of 650 Atlantic St. SE. DC. They were crouched down around the mini bike as if [they] were trying to fix some part of it. There were other young people standing two to three feet away from the ones with the mini bike.”
Goldberg doesn’t know anything about the importance of a red minibike. But he approaches the group anyway.
Goldberg goes on to state:
“I spoke to a young black female that was sitting on a metal rail that was approximately 10 feet away from the boys with the mini bike. The unidentified female stated that she was 12 years old, she did not see anything and she lived in 638. As I awas walking back toward the crime scene to continue the canvass, I turned around and saw two young males pushing the mini bike and leaving from in front of 650 Atlantic ST. SE. DC.”
Goldberg then joins up with the other officers at the crime scene. Some time later, he overhears something about a red minibike being stolen. And that the bike was a motorized bike. The detective then meets with a member of the Force Investigation Team—a Det. Baum—and told him that he had seen a red minibike. Baum and Goldberg then went back to the area and knocked on the door to 638 Atlantic.
“An unidentified young male opened the front door and stood at the door,” Goldberg writes. “I recognized this young male from being one of the people that was standing about two or three feet away from the mini bike in front of 650 Atlantic ST. SE. DC. I asked the young male if he knew about a mini bike. He answered negatively. I told him I saw him standing near the mini bike. The young male did not say anything and closed the door.”
Goldberg states that he and Det. Baum walked back to the crime scene. This was the extent of their canvassing.
Rawlings’ family attorney Gregory Lattimer says he has seen no warrants issued for 650 or 638 Atlantic Street SE.
*photo by Darrow Montgomery.