WASHINGTON - D.C. officials said an employee in Mayor Muriel Bowser's office has been fired after an alleged late-night drunken brawl at the Wilson Building. However, the incident is now raising new questions about transparency in the District.
FOX 5 received a tip from a source claiming the mayor's office was doing damage control on a situation that happened last week even before the story had leaked out. Once FOX 5 got a hold of the details and requested the police report to verify the tip, FOX 5 was given a report that was heavily redacted.
In the years that FOX 5 has requested reports from D.C. police, the only time they are redacted is when the crime is of a sexual nature in order to protect the victim.
However, this case is puzzling because even though a crime is alleged and witnessed by officers on the scene, the names of all those involved were blacked out from the police report.
According to police, Russell Rowe, a Ward 3 community liaison for Bowser's office, was spotted at city hall in what appeared to be an intoxicated state last Friday night. After looking to kiss another employee inside an elevator in the Wilson Building, other community liaisons escorted him out of the building, but not before he attempted to start a fist fight.
Once outside, Rowe is alleged to have called an officer the n-word.
Rowe and the Ward 2 community liaison ended up on the ground and Rowe is then seen punching out a car window. His supervisor along with the mayor's spokesperson responded outside. Rowe was then handcuffed and his legs were shackled. He was taken to a hospital for treatment.
Somewhere in between, Rowe was inexplicably released from custody and no charges filed.
However, this incident raised the question on why the media was only allowed to see the redacted version of the police report.
Transparency in DC looks like this.— Marina Marraco (@MarinaMarraco) July 26, 2018
Media requests a report re: 8 @MayorBowser staffers involved in drunken brawl @ Wilson Bldg. Media gets redacted version. Anyone else: unredacted (only last names). Some how Liason Russell Rowe is shackled, arrested & then let go ... no charges pic.twitter.com/Ml1srjDZ9A
For the sake of transparency, FOX 5 on Thursday has requested the police body-worn camera video from the incident. The city has 15 days to make that video public.
In theory, there should be no issue providing this video to FOX 5 given that this is not a criminal investigation and no charges were filed. FOX 5 will provide an update if the video is provided.
LaToya Foster, the press secretary for Mayor Bowser, who was present during the incident, said in a statement, "An employee was involved in an incident at the Wilson Building last Friday. The employee was immediately placed on administrative leave and has received notice of termination."
FOX 5 has learned that Rowe was previously arrested three years ago in Prince William County in Virginia.
According to police, Rowe was pulled over by an officer in Dumfries on July 25, 2015. The officer determined that Rowe may have been under the influence of alcohol. When the officer attempted to arrest Rowe, he charged and headbutted the officer in the chest.
A physical altercation ensued and police said Rowe swung his arm and hit another officer in the face who was attempting to assist with the arrest. Rowe was eventually taken into custody by the officers. He was treated at the scene for minor abrasions.
Rowe was charged with two counts of assault and battery on a law enforcement officer, one count of driving under the influence, one count of obstruction of justice and one county of unreasonable refusal in that case.