Pr. George's Official Defends Shooting 2

By Candace Rondeaux
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 24, 2007

Prince George's homeland security official Keith A. Washington has broken his silence about shooting two furniture deliverymen at his home last month, saying in a brief interview that the men provoked the shooting when they "intruded" on his home.

"I can't say I know exactly how a victim of a sexual assault feels, but I think it's something like this -- they invaded my home," Washington said Thursday evening outside his house in Accokeek.

Washington, who is deputy homeland security director and a county police corporal, shot Marlo Furniture movers Brandon D. Clark, 22, and Robert White, 36, with his police-issued 9mm Beretta on Jan. 24 as they delivered bedroom furniture to his house. Clark died of his wounds Feb. 2 without making a statement.

White, in a statement dictated to his attorney from his hospital bed, said he and Clark were making a Marlo-authorized delivery to Washington when Washington angrily ordered them out of his house, then opened fire on them without provocation.

As he and Clark lay bleeding, White said, he heard Washington then falsely report in a phone call that he had been attacked with a pipe.

Police have said that Washington and a family member in the home at the time told them Washington acted in self-defense.

Standing in his driveway Thursday, Washington disputed White's account as he looked at passing traffic. Before denouncing media reports about the shooting, he shouted at a reporter to take her hands out of her pockets. He said that he believed people had been "staking out" his home.

Washington said he has been anxious about his safety since the shooting and had been told by his attorney not to talk about the incident while he is on paid administrative leave from the police department.

He then spent several minutes criticizing Marlo Furniture and angrily accused White and Clark of entering his home without authorization.

"It just so happens they intruded on the wrong house," Washington said.

Washington also raised questions about White's background, suggesting that White, who has a felony record, didn't officially work for Marlo and should not have been allowed to accompany Clark on his deliveries. White was convicted in the early 1990s in South Carolina on charges of assault, receiving stolen property and burglary.

Washington would not provide more detail about the shooting.

Marlo Furniture referred questions yesterday to a lawyer, Andrew M. Beato, who declined to comment on Washington's remarks.

Michael Winkelman, an attorney for White and for Clark's family, said the men, who worked for a Marlo contractor, were authorized to deliver furniture for Marlo. He said there was no evidence that either of the deliverymen had done anything wrong, adding that White's criminal record had no bearing on the incident.

"Since when you are allowed to open fire on anyone with a criminal background?" Winkelman said. He also pointed to Washington's own controversial background.

Washington, a former driver for County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D), has come under investigation at least three times by the Prince George's police department over complaints of assault or "unbecoming conduct." He has been sued at least twice, including once by a D.C. police officer who said Washington assaulted him and had him falsely arrested, according to interviews and court records. That lawsuit was dismissed after the officer, Robert L. Johnson Jr., was fatally shot in 1997 after a traffic dispute in the District.

Steve E. Sunday, a police union attorney, did not return a call requesting comment yesterday.

Staff writer Eric Rich contributed to this report.

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