Officials withhold name of Metro police officer who fatally shot man in Lanham

July 7, 2012

Nearly three weeks after a Metro Transit Police officer shot and killed a 44-year-old man in a Lanham neighborhood, officials have not disclosed the identity of the officer or divulged many details of the deadly encounter.

Dan Stessel, a Metro spokesman, identified the dead man as Chester Joseph Crestwell Jr. of Lanham. However, because of concerns about the safety of the officer involved in the incident, Stessel said, the transit authority would not identify the officer.

The Prince George’s County Police Department, which is leading the investigation into the fatal shooting, typically releases the names of county officers who are involved in shootings. A spokesman for Prince George’s police said the agency was deferring to the wishes of Metro and was withholding the name of the Metro Transit officer.

A detective and a five-year veteran of the force, the officer is on administrative duty, as is typical after a shooting, Stessel said. The Washington Post has filed a public-records request seeking the identity of the officer.

Metro officials said the last fatal shooting involving a Metro Transit officer was in 2008. The officer involved had been aiding Virginia State Police in apprehending a suspect.

The region’s largest police agencies have different policies on information related to officer-involved shootings. In Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, departments generally release the names of officers involved in such incidents. In Fairfax, police typically release the names of officers involved in shootings but only after the county prosecutor has reviewed the shooting and only if the officer is not undercover or would not be endangered by being publicly identified. In the District, the D.C. police generally do not release the names of officers involved in such cases.

Authorities said the recent shooting involving the transit officer occurred about 12:30 p.m. June 20 on the 7100 block of Lory Lane. The Metro Transit detective had gone to the area to follow up on a lead related to an attempted abduction on June 17 at a bus stop in Northeast Washington. Once there, the detective encountered a man who was later identified as Crestwell. Crestwell allegedly fired at the detective several times and the detective returned fire, police officials said.

Crestwell was pronounced dead at the scene. The detective was not injured. A handgun was recovered at the scene, officials said.

An online obituary posted by Owens Funeral Service said Crestwell was a District native and a married father of two children. In May, he graduated from the Community College of Baltimore County with a commercial driver’s license. He had previously worked in warehouse support at the Pentagon and as a ground maintenance worker for the Department of the Army in Arlington County.

“He was a good son,” his mother, Barbara Crestwell, said in a brief phone interview before breaking down in tears. “He was a good father and a loving person.”

Stessel said authorities were investigating whether Crestwell may have been involved in the attempted abduction, which took place in the 4100 block of Minnesota Avenue NE. According to witness accounts provided to police, two people in a Mercedes-Benz approached a woman waiting at a bus stop about 6:15 p.m. The driver identified himself as a police officer, got out of the vehicle and tried to grab the woman, Stessel said.

The woman managed to escape, running onto a bus for safety. Transit police were notified about the incident, Stessel said.

A witness gave police a license plate number for the Mercedes, which led the detective to Lanham.

Stessel said a second man was arrested in connection with the alleged abduction. Franklin Sweeney, 40, of Riverdale was arrested June 20 and charged with attempted kidnapping. He is in custody.

Lori Aratani writes about how people live, work and play in the D.C. region for The Post’s Transportation and Development team.
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