D.C. officer gets 2 years’ probation for assault, excessive force against store worker

A D.C. police officer was sentenced to two years of supervised probation Friday for assaulting a man and using excessive force in January 2011 at a store in Northeast Washington.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Robert E. Morin also sentenced Clinton Turner, a patrol officer in the 6th District, to 180 days in jail but suspended that. Morin angrily reprimanded Turner for attacking the man and lying about it in a police report.

Turner, 42, said in the report that the victim had attacked him Jan. 20, 2011, inside the Downtown Locker Room store in the 3900 block of Minnesota Avenue.

Video from the store’s security camera was shown at Turner’s trial last month, and it indicated that Turner attacked the victim during a 20-second altercation.

“I don’t underestimate the stress police officers are under,” Morin said. “This wasn’t stress. You attacked this individual and then filed a false report.”

Morin said that had it not been for the security camera, the victim might have been convicted of assaulting an officer. The judge said he had planned to have Turner serve some time in jail but decided instead to defer to the prosecutor’s recommendation of probation.

Morin also ordered Turner to perform 200 hours of community service, attend anger-management classes, pay $1,200 in restitution to the victim — who said several of his dreadlocks were pulled out by Turner — and stay away from the victim.

Prosecutors said that Turner, who was on patrol at the time, had exchanged words with the store employee, who walked away from the argument. Turner followed him and kept telling him, “Don’t let us get you locked up on your birthday,” prosecutors said.

The victim asked why he would be arrested for being at work doing his job, and the officer warned that if he said something else, he would be arrested, according to prosecutors. The employee sarcastically replied, “Something else,” and Turner slammed him into a display wall. Turner then arrested him for assaulting a police officer.

Turner, who joined the force in 2004 and currently is on desk duty, apologized to the victim, who sat in the courtroom behind him during the hearing. Turner also apologized to his colleagues in the police department and to the neighborhood he patrolled.

Reading from a written statement, Turner said he was in counseling to help him deal with his “internal and external stress,” which, he said, contributed to the incident, along with his “lack of discipline, misplaced pride and ego.”

Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of intern Chandra Levy.
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