DC Mayor says suspect struck by cop in viral video should have been charged

In a Tuesday news conference, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said while she agrees with the D.C. Police Chief’s comments and actions involving the three officers now suspended and facing possible criminal investigation, she also believes the armed suspect seen under arrest in the viral video that alleges police brutality, should have been charged.

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The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia confirmed Monday evening that the case was dropped against the 23-year-old seen on video being repeatedly punched in the face by a D.C. police officer now on administrative leave. In that same video, the 23-year-old also appeared to be in possession of that the D.C. Police Union said was a fully loaded, .45 caliber "ghost gun."

"I do feel like he should have been charged. But I also know the reality that the prosecutor probably said to himself, ‘l take this to the jury, there’s no way it’s going to be prosecuted. So I might as well spend my time on something else.’ The whole thing is completely frustrating. At least we got the gun and we’ve identified somebody who maybe will take advantage of some help," said Mayor Bowser to FOX 5.

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In this case, we know police arrested the 23-year-old suspect on armed assault of a police officer, resisting arrest, and other illegal firearms charges.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia would not say why prosecutors decided to dismiss the 23-year-old’s case. The USAO is now reviewing whether to criminally charge the three officers suspended and said it would be "inappropriate to comment further."

D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee III said this incident started with officers witnessing a hand-to-hand drug transaction with officers eventually stopping the suspect and feeling the bulge of a firearm during a pat down. The incident was caught on cell phone video Sunday near 16th and U Streets, Southeast. It went viral, even been shared by rapper Snoop Dog.

A. Scott Bolden, a former prosecutor for the New York County (Manhattan) District Attorney’s Office and current Managing Partner for ReedSmith LLP., told FOX 5 that nine times out of 10, these cases are dismissed because it’s a bad stop.

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"How many times have you seen the police struggle with an individual that’s got a concealed weapon? You don’t see that often. Once the weapon is disclosed if you will, normally the police will back off, pull their guns, or either shoot or tell that individual to drop the gun, get on your knees, get on the ground, put your hands behind you, and you saw none of this from this video, which raises serious questions about the stop or whether this whether this was an actual crime that was committed before the struggle," said Bolden, "Now after the struggle, he certainly was in violation. He was struggling with police."

Bolden believes when officers found the gun is when they charged the 23-year-old, telling FOX 5, "The order of these facts is really important. Clearly the government didn’t believe they could prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt and they dismissed the charges."

The union claims the 23-year-old was actively trying to access the firearm, placing him in "assaultive behavior" where police would use a "defensive tactic" in response.

"In this case, these officers used a minimal amount a force to subdue a violent suspect in possession of an illegal firearm. The suspect made every indication that he was not afraid or reluctant to use the weapon. Once the investigation is complete, the actions taken by the officers will be understood and deemed justifiable, as they are in complete compliance with the general orders," said D.C. Police Union President Gregg Pemberton in an emailed statement.

FOX 5 did also speak with the 23-year-old’s family. We’re told he has a broken nose, among other injures. A family member also said the 23-year-old recently returned to the area in May, after graduating college. That family member said she was surprised to learn he even had a gun.