D.C. police officer accused of trying to kill his wife in Prince George’s home

A D.C. police officer has been indicted on a charge of attempted murder after allegedly trying to kill his wife with a metal light fixture and threatening her with knives in their home in Prince George’s County.

Prosecutors announced the indictment Friday against Officer Samson Edwards Lawrence III, 45, who lives in Accokeek. The 23-year veteran is charged with two counts of attempted murder, two counts of assault and two counts of possessing a dangerous weapon with intent to injure.

Lawrence, who had been assigned to the School Safety Division, was arrested Nov. 25, a day after the alleged attack, and charged with several counts of assault and reckless endangerment. He posted $200,000 bail and was released.

After his arrest, Lawrence was placed on administrative leave with pay and stripped of his gun and badge, D.C. police said. The charges listed in the indictment are more serious than those initially filed against the officer. On Friday, police said that Lawrence is now on “no-contact status,” barring him from interacting with the public.

Lawrence is the third D.C. police officer to face criminal charges in recent weeks. Officer Linwood Barnhill Jr. was accused of running an underage prostitution ring out of his apartment and is in jail, awaiting his next hearing. Officer Marc Washington was charged with taking semi-nude pictures of a teenage runaway and died after being pulled from the Washington Channel last week, a day after he was freed from jail pending trial. The cause of death is pending.

Court charging documents filed in connection with the Nov. 24 incident say that Lawrence and his wife argued over her not knowing where household screws were stored. The documents say that when she tried to talk, he sprayed Lysol in the air, making her cough and choke, and then asked her to make lunch. As she headed into the kitchen, he followed her and told her: “Say one more [expletive] word, I dare you. You know you are scared,” according to court papers.

The documents say his wife tried to break free but was pushed to the ground and hit over the head five or six times with a metal light fixture, causing her to bleed from the back of the head. “I’m going to finish it right now,” the officer allegedly said, according to the court papers.

Authorities said the wife escaped and ran into another room to try to call 911 but was grabbed and shoved against a wall. The court documents state that the suspect held two large knives to her throat.

“He pinned me against a wall and slid a butcher knife across my face and said, ‘I might as well finish it off,’ ” the wife said in a request for a protective order.

She broke away again and ran to a neighbor’s house and called police, the documents state. Officials said his 16-year-old daughter also dialed 911 from the house. Authorities said that Lawrence left but was arrested the next day in the District.

His wife’s protective order bars him from their home and her place of work.

Prince George’s police said they also filed a separate child-abuse charge against Lawrence after learning that he allegedly became physical with the 16-year-old during an argument a month earlier. Police said the teen was allegedly shoved into a hallway wall so hard that her head left an indentation and added that she fell down the stairs trying to run away.

The officer “came down the stairs after her, pulled her hair, and began choking her,” police records say. The daughter said she couldn’t breathe, to which the suspect allegedly replied: “You are disrespectful. You don’t deserve to breathe.” Attempts to reach Lawrence were unsuccessful.

He is scheduled to appear in court next week in connection with the charges involving his daughter. A court date in the attempted murder case is pending.

Lawrence and Barnhill were hired in 1990 and 1989, respectively, when D.C. police lowered hiring standards to quickly add 1,500 officers to the force. Police officials say that standards have become more rigorous and that many officers hired then would not be now.

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Lynh Bui is a Prince George's County public safety reporter and former Montgomery County education reporter.
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