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Posted at 07:13 AM ET, 06/29/2011

Off-duty D.C. police investigated in connection with beating

Three D.C. police officers are being investigated in connection with the severe beating of a Maryland man earlier this month outside of a Northwest Washington nightclub, law enforcement sources said.

Police officials refused to give details about the investigation late Tuesday, but one officer with knowledge of the probe said the three officers have been suspended from their regular duties while the investigation is underway.

All three were reportedly off-duty when the beating took place outside the Lotus nightclub, in the 1400 block of K Street NW, on June 10.

The beating was so severe that the victim, 24-year-old Walter Blair II of District Heights, lost his right eye, his attorney said.

The attorney, Ronald Karp, could not confirm whether D.C. police were involved in the beating. He said he looked at video footage of the attack that shows at least two men in security uniforms repeatedly kicking Blair as Blair lay in the fetal position on the ground. The attorney declined to cite the source of the video, and the circumstances that led up to the beating were not clear.

“I saw one video, and we talked to some witnesses, and what I saw was ugly and mean,” Karp said in an interview. “They were not trying to apprehend the young man, they were punishing him.”

Blair is a recent graduate of University of Delaware, where he earned a degree in management, Karp said. His mother works for the State Department and his father is an accountant for a national union.

Karp said Blair was at the club celebrating his birthday. He was beaten about 2:30 a.m., after the club had closed for the night. “He really is a good kid,” Karp said.

Blair was taken to Washington Hospital Center, where doctors were unable to save his eye, Karp said. Both Karp and Blair appeared on WRC-TV (Channel 4) Tuesday night to discuss the incident. Blair was wearing dark sunglasses. The station also aired a photo of Blair with a scar and swelling in the area near his closed right eyelid.

Karp said he did not know if the men shown beating Blair in the video were police officers. Many D.C. police officers work as security guards at nightclubs and other establishments when they are off duty.

Gwen Crump, a spokeswoman for the police department, declined to give specifics about the incident--which was first reported by W-USA (Channel 9). But she said police are investigating.

Two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation said two of the officers are being investigated for kicking and assaulting a man outside the club, and a third is being investigated for failure to take police action.

The officers were relieved of their regular duties Tuesday, one source said.

By  |  07:13 AM ET, 06/29/2011

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