WASHINGTON - After a month-long internal investigation, D.C. police say officers actions were "justified within departmental policy" when they responded to a 911 call that prompted officers to handcuff and restrain an 18-year-old man who tried to run away from them. Jason Goolsby, a freshman at the University of the District of Columbia, says he ran from police because he was afraid.
The case received national attention after cell phone video of the incident was posted on social media.
On the evening of October 12, Goolsby said he was standing outside a Citibank on Pennsylvania Avenue at 7th St. SE near Eastern Market with friends. Police responded after a call was made to 911 reporting that the teens appeared to be suspicious.
Goolsby was handcuffed and restrained on the ground by police after he ran away from officers who tried to approach him.
Goolsby said he ran away because was afraid when police drove up. He said the cruiser almost hit him.
“When I fled, I saw a gun and pepper spray and I nearly got hit by a car, so my first instinct was to run because I didn't want to die,” said Goolsby.
Video of the incident was viewed and shared widely on social media, along with the hashtag #JusticeforJason.
However, documents released to FOX 5 on Wednesday say interviews were conducted with responding officers and witnesses who saw the incident. Officials tried to obtain additional surveillance video of the incident from around the area, but none was available.
The 55-page report reads, in part: "In review of the facts and documents presented in this matter, this investigating official concludes that the forcible stop and frisk by (officers names redacted) was necessary and reasonable."
The report also says all three teens ran from police when they were approached, and that Goolsby refused commands to stop. According to the report, he ran through traffic away from the police, and repeatedly reached into a backpack refusing to stop.
"I'm sure there is some anxiety on the officers’ side when he sees a person run with a backpack, then reaching into a backpack and refusing to take his hands out of the backpack,” said Chief Lanier. “And there is some anxiety and fear on the man’s side when an officer pulls up and says, ‘Hey, come here, I want to talk to you.’”
The report says a dispatcher gave responding officers some bad information over the radio telling them the teens seen outside a Pennsylvania Avenue bank may have been robbing people in the area. It is a broadcast that was then corrected by a supervisor who said that the teens were just acting suspicious.
"It does change the dynamic and the other thing that changes the dynamic a little bit is the fact that when the officers arrive and go to approach these young men, one stops and stands there like, ‘Okay, I’ll talk to you,’ and one that has a backpack takes off running.”
The report also says the officers responded to the call knowing there have been a number of robberies in the area.
Goolsby's friend, Michael Brown, was one of the teens who was with him when the incident happened. Goolsby and Brown retained an attorney, Peter Grenier, who said last month that they were brutalized by Metropolitan Police Department officers "literally for no other reason than the fact they are black."
Chief Lanier said that was not true, and in fact, neither Goolsby nor the other teenager filed a complaint. The entire incident lasted less than 30 minutes and not the nearly two hours their lawyer claimed.
The president of the police union told FOX 5 last month that officers acted properly in their response to the situation.
Grenier told FOX 5 on Wednesday that he takes issue about police’s claim that Goolsby was reaching into his backpack. He said that could not be true because the backpack was on his back.
The lawyer also said D.C.police in this report has written “a narrative to excuse their egregious behavior. Shame on them.”
On October 19, the city released a transcript of the 911 call that prompted the police response to the bank. The call was made by a woman who said the three teenagers made her feel uncomfortable. Goolsby said he and his friends were going to use the ATM, but decided against it and held a door open for someone with a baby stroller before starting to walk away-- which is when police responded.
“Hi yes umm I want to report that there are 3 umm teenagers in the Citibank on Pennsylvania Avenue and Seventh...that are waiting at the door to let people in, but aren’t doing anything inside of the bank. Uh we just left but we felt like if we had taken money out we might’ve gotten robbed. Umm so...” the caller said.
After the transcript was released, Grenier said there was nothing in it that indicated a crime had occurred or was about to occur.