By Candace Rondeaux and Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, April 7, 2007
Keith A. Washington, the Prince George's County official who shot two furniture deliverymen this year, turned himself in to county police yesterday after being charged with pulling a gun on a real estate appraiser who said he mistakenly knocked on his door this week.
Washington, 45, the county's deputy homeland security director, was charged yesterday morning with first-degree assault, second-degree assault and use of a handgun during a violent crime in connection with Thursday's incident at his house in Accokeek.
He arrived at the Prince George's County Detention Center about 11 a.m. and left about 4:30 p.m. after posting $75,000 bond, corrections officials said. The arrest followed a decision by Police Chief Melvin C. High late Thursday to suspend Washington's police powers, which stripped the corporal of his police-issued gun and badge. An internal affairs investigation is also underway, authorities say.
Washington remains under investigation for shooting two Marlo Furniture movers who were making a delivery to his house Jan. 24. Washington shot Brandon D. Clark, 22, and Robert White, 36, with his police-issued 9mm Beretta after a dispute over a bed set escalated, police said. Clark died of his wounds Feb. 2.
Washington has said he shot the men in self-defense. Messages left for his attorney, Steve Sunday, were not returned this week, and attempts to reach Washington were unsuccessful.
Prince George's State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said his office is awaiting the results of forensic analysis of physical evidence found in Washington's home and other tests before moving forward with the shooting case.
"I think the [tests] could help to corroborate or undercut the various versions of what happened that night," Ivey said. "I think it's critical to have the forensic evidence to move forward."
Ivey said he supports High's decision to suspend Washington and confiscate his weapon in the meantime. "I think, given the circumstances, it was the appropriate thing to do," he said.
Investigators confiscated Washington's service weapon when he was placed on administrative leave after the January shooting. At some point, under standard police practices, he was issued another weapon. A source, who requested anonymity because the case is ongoing, said investigators think the gun involved Thursday was the newly issued service weapon.
The incident that triggered Washington's arrest occurred when Kevin King, a real estate appraiser for ONCE Appraisals in the District, pulled up to Washington's house in the 1500 block of Shellford Lane about 9:30 a.m. Thursday.
In a charging document filed with Prince George's authorities, King said he was sitting in his vehicle, which bore his company's name on the tailgate, when Washington pulled into his driveway. King said he noticed the car immediately because Washington almost hit his mailbox as he parked.
"He exited his car and looked at me. I waved at him to say 'Hi,' " King said in the charging document.
King said Washington then let himself into the house through the front door. Moments later, King noticed Washington behind his vehicle. Washington next went to the back of his house.
King finished his paperwork, walked to the center of the street, took photos of the home and shot two more street-view photos. He then knocked on the front door. When Washington answered, he immediately became irate, King said.
"He produced a handgun at one point with the barrel facing me in a threatening and deadly manner. I began to walk backwards toward the street, explaining I was an appraiser. I showed him the appraisal order form, but he continued to threaten me," King said.
Realizing he was at the wrong house, King said he got into his car as Washington "continued to scream and threaten" him. King drove up the street, stopped at the correct address and called 911, according to the documents.
King, of Columbia, said he did not know who Washington was until the neighbor told him.
"Considering what happened to the guys from Marlo Furniture, I felt both terrified and grateful that I wasn't killed," King said.
King, who met yesterday with reporters at the Bowie office of his attorney, Michael Winkelman, called the encounter with Washington "terrifying," saying the assault was unprovoked. He said Washington never identified himself as an officer.
Winkelman, who also represents White's and Clark's families, said he is "hopeful" that the county will conduct a fair investigation and, if necessary, prosecution of the officer.
John Erzen, a spokesman for County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D), said Washington remains in his homeland security job and is on administrative leave with pay.
Washington was processed at the Prince George's jail yesterday and briefly held in the medical unit in a cell by himself, away from the general population, said Vicki D. Duncan, spokeswoman for the Prince George's Department of Corrections.
Ivey said yesterday that a grand jury will decide whether to indict Washington on charges stemming from the case.
Staff writers Hamil R. Harris, Nelson Hernandez and Rosalind S. Helderman and researchers Karl Evanzz and Magda Louis-Jean contributed to this report.