No charges to be filed in GW grad student’s death, officials say

December 6, 2011

Nobody will be prosecuted in the case of a George Washington University graduate student who died in a late-night confrontation in September, authorities said.

Patrick Casey fell and suffered fatal head injuries after a shove or a punch outside a McDonald’s restaurant Sept. 23. On Tuesday, officials said the U.S. attorney’s office for the District has declined to press charges against any of several men thought to have been involved in the altercation.

“The U.S. attorney’s office worked with [D.C. police detectives] in investigating all the facts and circumstances surrounding Mr. Casey’s death,” office spokesman Bill Miller said. The office “determined there is insufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges related to the death of Mr. Casey.”

Gwendolyn Crump, a D.C. police spokeswoman, declined to comment, referring questions to the U.S. attorney’s office. Two law enforcement sources, who were not authorized to speak about the case, said the department has closed its investigation, classifying Casey’s death as a “justifiable homicide by citizen.”

Prosecutors made the decision formal in a letter to police last week, the sources said.


Patrick Casey (Family Photo)

The U.S. attorney’s office met with Casey’s family to inform them of its decision in November, Miller said. “They expressed their deepest condolences to the family for the tragic loss of Mr. Casey in this unfortunate incident,” Miller said.

On Tuesday, Casey’s parents said they were not aware that police had closed the case.

“We’re still trying to get a clear understanding of what happened and a better understanding of how the police conducted their investigation,” said Paul Casey, Casey’s father, who said the family had sought legal counsel. “We still have questions we need answered.”

Casey, who stood 6-foot-4 and weighed 280 pounds, was a U.S. Army veteran and had served in Afghanistan. The 33-year-old from Clifton Park, N.Y., learned Arabic in the Army and returned to the United States in February to enroll in a master’s degree program in international studies.

According to police, Casey had been drinking with friends before he entered the McDonald’s in the 1900 block of M Street NW. There was a confrontation with another group, and Casey’s head hit the sidewalk. He died of those injuries five days later.

Detectives interviewed bystanders and people involved in the confrontation and viewed surveillance footage, officials said. Police officials had said previously that their investigation found that Casey might have been one of the instigators of the fight.

At a September news conference, D.C. Police Capt. Michael Farish said Casey arrived at the McDonald’s with two or three friends and began interacting with other patrons in an “irritating” way, leading to an argument.

The dispute continued on the sidewalk outside, Farish said. At some point, police believe, someone punched or pushed Casey. He fell, injured his head and was unconscious when an ambulance arrived.

In an interview with The Post shortly after the incident, Casey’s parents said a witness told them that their son had been “sucker-punched” while defending a female friend.

The D.C. medical examiner’s office, which conducted an autopsy, said Casey died of blunt force trauma to the back of the head, officials said. Officials did not name any of the other people involved in the incident. The U.S. attorney’s office declined to answer further questions about the investigation.

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Clarence Williams is the night police reporter for The Washington Post and has spent the better part of 13 years standing next to crime scene tape, riding in police cars or waking officials in the middle of night to gather information about breaking news in and around Washington.
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