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When fire engines awoke Eddie Becker around 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, he decided to take a walk down 18th Street. Becker, 52, has lived in Adams Morgan for more than 30 years and likes to keep tabs on the crazies and drunks who take over his neighborhood on weekend nights. He is not a fan.
When he first stepped outside, just north of Columbia Road, the neighborhood was quiet. “It was like the 70s again,” he says.
But a few steps south, on 18th Street, the usual chaos was in full swing. Becker approached a cluster of police who had surrounded a hysterical woman and her friend. The woman was yelling that she’d been raped and pointed to a man standing nearby on the sidewalk. She looked bloody and bruised and cried out in agony. According to Becker, the police began restraining the woman, as if she had done something wrong, and told her alleged attacker to leave. Becker walked up and told the officers, all men, that they needed to find a female cop.
They told Becker to take a hike.
He did—-and found a female officer on his own. He told her about the incident, and she followed him to the scene, where she immediately took charge. Then the officers noticed Becker. “They see me and they say, ‘We thought we told you not to interfere.’ And I say, ‘I’m trying to help,’” Becker recalls. Shooed away from the scene, he took refuge in M’Dawg, a hot dog restaurant. Three officers followed him inside. One, whose badge number Becker memorized, told him he wanted to talk. Becker says he told the officer they could talk in the restaurant. Instead, the three men in blue pulled Becker out onto the street, handcuffed him and pushed his face into a window while they went through his pockets looking for ID. They questioned him about where he lived and threatened to arrest him. After debating what to do for several minutes, Becker says, the officers released him and told him to go home.
Third District police commander Larry McCoy says the incident is under investigation—-by the Third District. McCoy says the woman in question was highly intoxicated. She was taken to a hospital and interviewed by detectives from the sex assault unit. She did not report a sexual assault. “There are two sides to every story,” he says. “I know the officers tried to keep people back and they did call for medical attention.” Now, he says, the question is whether Becker interfered, and whether any officers used excessive force.
The badge number Becker memorized, 2546, belongs to Marcus Smith of the Sixth District, who was on duty in Adams Morgan as part of the All Hands on Deck special crime-fighting deployment. (I’ve left messages for Smith’s supervisor but haven’t heard back yet.) Becker is considering filing charges. “I’m supposed to feel like I did something wrong?” he says. “Why were they focused on me? The only conclusion I’ve come to is that whatever they were doing, they knew they weren’t doing it right.”
Just realized WJLA beat me to the story.