The son of D.C. Council member and former mayor Marion Barry pleaded guilty yesterday to a misdemeanor assault charge stemming from a confrontation with police.
Christopher Barry, 24, acknowledged that he resisted arrest in the Feb. 18 incident at a friend's Northwest Washington apartment. But he denied punching or choking a police officer, as prosecutors charged.
The plea agreement in D.C. Superior Court nearly fell apart over Barry's insistence that all he did was try to shut the door on the police when officers confronted him.
Officers had been sent to the apartment in the 700 block of Fourth Street NW after a neighbor called police to report a possible domestic disturbance. When police arrived, they heard loud music, but no one answered their knocks, so the officers, including Officer Michael Fanone, went inside.
Barry, who was alone in the apartment, told Judge Harold Cushenberry Jr. yesterday that he "closed the door" on police, but that "I didn't strike Officer Fanone."
Cushenberry said Barry's account would not constitute a simple assault, adding, "I'm not going to accept a guilty plea if all he's going to tell me is that he shut the door on a police officer."
Defense lawyer A. Scott Bolden conferred briefly with Barry, who then told the judge that "there was some resistance." He continued to maintain that he did not punch or choke the officer.
Prosecutors had charged Barry with assault on a police officer, a felony. They accused him of punching the officer and putting him in a headlock. Assistant U.S. Attorney Donnell Turner reiterated those allegations in court yesterday, which is what prompted Barry's denials.
Cushenberry ultimately allowed the plea to go forward, saying he was satisfied that Barry admitted conduct that would sustain a conviction on the misdemeanor.
Barry faces up to 180 days in jail, but the plea agreement calls for sentencing to be put off for nine months. If he completes a requirement for community service and is not arrested again, Barry would be able to withdraw his guilty plea and the charges would be dismissed.