Early Friday morning, reader and Adams Morgan resident Ted Stein witnessed what he alleges to be a case of police brutality and a subsequent cover-up. This is his account:
Last night, I was working at my computer into the small hours of the morning when I heard a violent scuffle just outside. I looked out the window and saw what looked like two drunk men (I live in Adams Morgan, and assumed they were drunk) violently dragging a black man down the street.
Concerned about seeing a black man being dragged down the street in front of my house, I ran downstairs and caught up with them on the corner of Columbia and Belmont. The black man being held was yelling that he did not take anyone’s purse, and a woman was demanding that he tell her where her wallet was.
The man being dragged was then thrown violently onto the pavement by the larger of the two men doing the dragging. From the pavement, he yelled that he wasn’t resisting (he wasn’t), and then the large man methodically spread out the man’s legs. The large man took a step backwards, got a running start and kicked the accused man in the testicles with his combat boots.
I called 911 on my cell phone.
I reported the assault and described the assailant: a large man in jeans, boots, and a red shirt. I spoke loudly in hopes that the assailant, if he became aware that I was calling the police, would stop kicking the man. Maybe it worked; the kicking stopped.
A uniformed officer (Flynn, badge # 4362) arrived and arrested the purse-snatching suspect. I and three other witnesses told officer Flynn that the man in the red shirt (we pointed him out) had just violently assaulted the alleged purse snatcher. The three other witnesses said that when the man had reared back to deliver the kick, his shirt had flapped up, revealing a gun.
Then the woman whose purse had been snatched said that the man in the red shirt was a police officer.
Officer Flynn spoke with the man in the red shirt but did not make any moves to detain him. He started walking away. At this sight, the three other witnesses and I informed Officer Flynn that a man with a gun—-a man who had just dragged someone down the street, thrown him to the ground, and kicked him—-was escaping.
The man with the red shirt walked away. Through a crowd of police officers. I ran to my house and grabbed a housemate of mine and some of his co-workers, all attorneys; we returned to the scene.
The police said (1) they had no idea if the man in the red shirt was an officer; (2) the man in the red shirt escaped, but they had tried to chase him down; and (3) if the man in the red shirt did kick this guy, it was a purse snatcher and the guy deserved it. After telling us this story, they grabbed a man with a red hat off the street and said that they thought we’d said red hat, not red shirt.
Despite our concern that a violent man with a gun was running loose in Adams Morgan, the police began drifting away.
I asked for a police report number. At first, I was told I was not entitled to one. The three attorneys said that I was. The police then told me that I would have to wait for the detective to arrive. I waited.
They continued leaving. I asked for a report number again and again was told to wait. They all left, and never gave me a number.
Standing on the corner waiting for a non-existent detective and police report, I realized that what I’d witnessed was a cover up. A black man was violently assaulted by a police officer while lying flat on the ground. The police lied to me and never gave me a report number.
I want to believe the police filed a report and plan to conduct an investigation. I am sharing this story with the public in hopes of encouraging them to do the right thing.