By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 23, 2006
An off-duty D.C. police officer shot and killed a 51-year-old man during a confrontation yesterday afternoon in Northeast Washington, authorities said.
The officer, identified as Edward M. Ford, shot Ignatius Gary Brown about 3 p.m. at West Virginia Avenue and Neal Street NE, police said. Brown, of the 1200 block of Oates Street NE, was taken to Washington Hospital Center, where he died about a half-hour later, police said.
Investigators were trying to piece together what happened, and some details remained sketchy last night. Authorities said Ford was driving in the area and spotted Brown, who was being sought by police for allegedly having stolen tools at a nearby house on which Ford had been working.
According to police, events unfolded like this: Ford got out of his car, asked a neighborhood resident to call 911 and approached the man. The man made a threatening motion, and Ford pulled out his gun. At this point, the man lunged at Ford, and the officer's gun discharged. It was not clear whether the gun went off by accident, police said.
Authorities could not immediately say what Ford, who works in the 2nd Police District in Northwest Washington, was doing in the area. According to voter registration records, he lives about two miles from where the shooting took place.
Ford, 48, has been the subject of several internal and criminal investigations since he joined the force in 1990, according to court records and news reports.
In December 1993, Ford and another officer handcuffed a Silver Spring motorist to a mailbox in Northwest Washington after stopping her on suspicion of drunken driving. During that incident, Ford and the other officer forcibly took a camera from a Washington Post reporter who was at the scene.
No charges were filed against the officers. But the incident generated controversy after the newspaper published a front-page photograph of the woman locked to the mailbox. Lawsuits filed by the woman and the reporter, Brian Mooar, were settled out of court.
Ford has been arrested on assault charges three times -- in 1993, 1995 and 1999 -- but was not convicted. Prosecutors decided not to pursue charges in two of the cases, and a D.C. Superior Court judge granted a motion of acquittal in the third, court records show.
Residents of the neighborhood where yesterday's shooting occurred said they were surprised by the incident. The episode took place just outside the fence that borders Gallaudet University, next to Holy Name Catholic School. No one else was wounded in the shooting. The police investigation shut down traffic on West Virginia Avenue, clogging side streets with traffic during rush hour.
"If somebody died, somebody needs to know what happened," said Anthony Wilson, a resident who arrived home from work after the shooting. "We don't generally have homicides on this street or large crime waves here."