FOX 5 first broke the story on Sunday with sources telling reporter Lindsay Watts that the officers involved, who are new to the department, started racing each other on Anacostia Avenue, Northeast near Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Garden. Those sources also say reports indicate they were traveling at least 60 miles per hour. A spokesperson with the department confirmed an investigation into officers drag racing and noted four Sixth District officers were treated at area hospitals for non-life-threatening injuries.
"I’ll definitely check in with MPD about it," said Mayor Muriel Bowser, "I hadn’t been aware of that request or response. But let me speak to the underlying issue. If we had officers who are engaging in this dangerous behavior, it would be, in my view, a dereliction of duty. They have to be held accountable."
The question to the mayor on Monday was whether police should be held to a higher standard here and whether she would order the release of the police traffic incident report. FOX 5 was previously told to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain the report. The department only provides traffic reports through a FOIA request, unlike other criminal reports.
The report, released to FOX 5 DC later in the day Monday, identifies the vehicles involved as being owned by the "Government." The officers are not named. The words "drag race" or "drag racing" are not used and the exact speed of the vehicles involved is not identified, despite sources telling FOX 5 reports indicated the officers involved were traveling around 60 mph.
The report also does not appear to identify the four involved as officers. They are referred to as: "Driver 1, Driver 2, Passenger 1 and Passenger 2." None of those four made statements on scene, according to the traffic incident report.
The report identifies the portion of Anacostia Avenue, Northeast involved as a two-way road that is not divided. A summary says that around 5:20 p.m. last Thursday, the two vehicles were traveling southbound on the 1500 block of Anacostia Avenue, Southeast at a "high rate of speed" and that the driver of one cruiser closer to the outer portion of the roadway attempted to make a left turn onto Polk Street, Northeast, ahead of "Vehicle 1."
The report says the driver of "Vehicle 1" was unable to stop in time, causing "Vehicle 1" to strike "Vehicle 2" on the driver-side door, pushing the car onto the sidewalk. The cruiser landed on an older fence at the corner, damaging some of that fence.
Photos shared with FOX 5 DC show one cruiser had its airbag deployed, the impact was that hard. The other cruiser had visible damage to the lower end from the photo.
Both cruisers were disabled and towed to the police shop on West Virginia Ave, Northeast.
An internal email from the Sixth District Commander obtained exclusively by FOX 5’s Lindsay Watts, mentioned the Commander’s concern over this alleged road rage crash and at least one other speeding incident she learned about after speaking with the chief, where an MPD van filled with officers was recently found to be speeding some 90 miles per hour to the scene of a shooting on 37th Place.
"Yesterday two 6D scout cars were totaled because officers decided instead of fighting crime, patrolling their beats, or engaging the community – they decided to drag race each other on Anacostia Avenue at 5 pm in the evening," reads the email from 6D Commander Durriyyah Habeebullah.
"What does this say to all the members of MPD who are passionate about their job and work hard every day to make a difference. This is not fair to any of us," the email goes on to say.
Neither a D.C. police spokesperson nor Bowser had more information on the speeding van when asked about it on Monday.
FOX 5 DC also asked Bowser whether she felt the officers should be charged like any other citizen caught speeding or drag racing behind the wheel. The mayor responded saying she did not want to get into the specifics. "…because, you know, we have to investigate. But it appears that the facts of what you stated. That we had officer who were using their government property, putting themselves at risk. Obviously putting anybody else on the street at risk, and that – that’s unacceptable," Mayor Bowser said.
A police spokesperson confirmed all four officers involved were placed on "non-contact status." According to the D.C. police General Order, "non-contact" is when an MPD member "has been assigned to an MPD element with powers revoked and restricted contact with the public and no loss of salary."
The mayor’s office was also asked whether members of the press would be allowed to view any police camera video associated with this alleged drag racing crash. The mayor’s office said it would get back to reporters with that information.