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News items published on list-serves aren’t always very reliable. They’re often second or third hand, and details like date and time get lost in the author’s outrage over no-good kids down the block or the injustice of such and such an agency. A recent posting on several DC scooter websites smelled typically dubious: a group of delinquents had attempted to jack a scooter, and the rider ended up getting cited for breaking the law. Turns out police reports aren’t always very reliable, either.
Jonathan Lieber bought his scooter, an orange Buddy 125, just a week before he nearly lost it. Here’s his version of the events: Around 9 p.m. on Friday May 16, he was riding north on 13th Street NW and came to a stop at the light at Euclid. A group of teenagers started crossing the street toward him, but that didn’t seem odd, it being DC, on a Friday night. Then one of the young men marched over and told Lieber to give up his scooter. Not comprehending his assailant’s determination, Lieber refused. To help him understand, a second teen lifted up his shirt, grabbed the pistol stuffed in his waistband, and used it to slapped Lieber in the face. That sort of backfired. Instead of dismounting, the panicking Lieber yanked his throttle and zoomed into the intersection, where he collided with a car and toppled over the hood and onto the ground. The kids ran off, someone called 911 and John sat bleeding from his split lip. (Another driver ran out of his car after the hoodlums. In return for this daring deed, his car rolled down the hill and crashed into another vehicle.) Lieber, after giving a statement to police, took an ambulance to Howard University Hospital, where he got eight stitches. (And yes, Mrs. Lieber, Jon was wearing a helmet.)
Then he got another surprise: an officer showed up with a $50 ticket charging Lieber with causing the collision on Euclid. Lieber says the officer explained that he had to blame someone, for insurance purposes, but promised not to show up in court if Lieber contested the ticket. Still, it seems highly odd that you can get charged with a crime for attempting to flee from an assault. To further sweeten the pot, the incident report from the attempted armed scooter jacking blamed Lieber for causing the injury to his lip. According to the report, Lieber “attempted to flee northbound on 13th Street, striking [the assailant’s] handgun causing the listed injury.” backwards. In addition to blaming Lieber for injuries he says he sustained after getting pistol-whipped, the report jumbles the sequence of events. Lieber says he fled into the intersection after getting slapped in the face with a gun, not the other way around.
Lieber is waiting to pass judgment on police until everything is over. He says his injury is healing and his insurance is covering the damage to his scooter. “We’ll see how they handle I guess,” he says. A detective contacted him this weekend with news of possible suspects.
As for the mixed up police report, a district supervisor said he needed to get in touch with Lieber before commenting on the incident.