Teen in May shooting of D.C. officer remains unfit to stand trial, ordered to undergo additional tests

A 15-year-old District boy who police say stood on the awning of his apartment building in May and opened fire on officers remains psychologically unfit for trial, according to a mental-health specialist’s diagnosis submitted to D.C. Superior Court.

At a hearing Tuesday, Judge Milton C. Lee ordered additional psychological tests.

The boy’s attorney said that depending on the findings of those tests, he might argue to have the criminal charges dropped. In that case, the District would have to charge the boy under the civil code.

Doing so could result in the boy’s transfer from juvenile custody to his parents ’ custody or a halfway house. The boy, who is being reviewed at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington, has undergone several evaluations since his arrest.

The Washington Post was permitted to cover the hearing on the condition that the boy, who was charged as a juvenile, was not identified. He stood in juvenile court next to his parents and a guard from the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services.

The boy was arrested after he allegedly shot a police officer who had responded to the 700 block of Crittenden Street NE about 5:15 a.m May 21 on a report of a man with a gun. When uniformed officers arrived, they found the boy on the awning of his apartment with a .38 revolver, authorities said.

One officer, who was wearing a protective vest, was hit three times and briefly hospitalized, police said. Another was grazed.

Prosecutors have charged the boy with 11 counts, including attempted first-degree murder while armed, assault with intent to kill, assault on a police officer and aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon.

At the hearing, Lee said that “some progress” in the boy’s condition has been made but that “he has not turned the corner on the core issues on mental health.”

The boy’s attorney, Antoini Jones, said he was not sure whether his client “would ever be competent.”

May 21, the day of the shooting, had been widely publicized by a California preacher as the “end of the world,” and a source familiar with the case said that might have contributed to the boy’s behavior. Details of the boy’s mental-health history have not been made public.

The boy, hunched over and thin during a court appearance shortly after his arrest, appeared healthier and stood up straighter Tuesday. Wearing a striped polo shirt and khaki shorts, he spoke his name and his birth date.

A prosecutor with the District’s attorney general’s office agreed to the follow-up assessment, which would allow doctors to review the boy’s medication and his reaction to treatment.

Another hearing was scheduled for Oct. 4.

Lee said that the boy’s mental health, at this stage, was more critical than the criminal case.

“If there is a breakthrough in his psychosis, then the competency issue may be more readily addressed,” he said. “We’re talking about trying to get him help.”

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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