The D.C. Attorney General’s Office, which is prosecuting the case, contends that the 484 members of the protective force are not real police officers. Managed out of the city’s real estate office, they are basically security guards, authorities said, commissioned to make arrests and carry handguns but with power limited to the properties to which they are assigned. The officers are prohibited from using any weapons other than 9mm Glocks, provided by the D.C. police, and a few shotguns.
Cannon, the former police chief, later acknowledged that the authorization letter was inaccurate because the weapon was intended for personal use, according to court documents. Another commander within the agency testified that no one in Protective Services was authorized to carry an AR-15.
Yefat Levy, a prosecutor with the D.C. Attorney General’s Office, argued in a motion that Barbusin shouldn’t have been allowed to keep the gun unless he was “issued this firearm by his employing agency,” had authorization to carry it on duty and had it registered with the D.C. police. None of those criteria were met, Levy said.
Hannon said the security officers are real police officers as defined under federal law, meaning the authorization letters they obtained in 2009 give them the legal right to possess the assault weapons, even in the District. He also said it doesn’t matter that Barbusin’s gun was never used in the line of duty.
Barbusin’s trial began last week but stalled Thursday when the defense accused prosecutors of withholding information about e-mails by the former chief.
D.C. Superior Court Judge Stuart G. Nash suggested to prosecutors that on Monday he would consider throwing out two of the gun charges — possessing the weapon and ammunition. That would leave Barbusin charged with possession of a gun magazine holding 10 or more rounds, which is illegal for civilians.
“I think the government has a very deep hole to try to dig out of in terms of ultimately persuading me to convict Sgt. Barbusin,” Nash said, according to a transcript. Of the gun-clip charge, he said, “I would find it personally distasteful to have to convict and sentence him for doing what every other law enforcement officer in the District of Columbia does and is not prosecuted for.”