Grand Jury Hears Shooting Survivor

White, who was shot in late January, walks slowly and with a cane as he prepares to go before the grand jury in Upper Marlboro.
White, who was shot in late January, walks slowly and with a cane as he prepares to go before the grand jury in Upper Marlboro. (By Jahi Chikwendiu -- The Washington Post)
By Candace Rondeaux
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A furniture deliveryman who was shot by a high-ranking Prince George's County homeland security official appeared yesterday before the grand jury that is weighing conflicting accounts in the closely watched case.

In his first public appearance since the Jan. 24 shooting, Robert White testified for nearly two hours about the night he and his co-worker, Brandon D. Clark, were shot by county police Cpl. Keith A. Washington as the two men delivered a bed set to Washington's Accokeek home.

Washington, who was then the county's deputy homeland security director, fired his 9mm Beretta at White, 36, and Clark, 22, at least six times after what White has said was a dispute over the Marlo Furniture delivery. Clark died Feb. 2. White was hospitalized for several weeks and continues to receive treatment, according to his attorney.

Police initially said they planned to file assault charges against White and Clark, but they backed away from arresting either man as more details of the shooting emerged.

White's grand jury testimony came two weeks after Washington and his wife gave the panel their version of events and could point to a significant shift in prosecutors' theory of what occurred in Washington's home that night.

The panel must now weigh whether to charge Washington or White in the case and whether to proceed with prosecution at all.

Michael Winkelman, an attorney for White and for Clark's family, said White's grand jury appearance was somewhat unexpected. But he said he was even more surprised to learn that prosecutors had asked Washington -- who was recently indicted on assault charges in a separate incident -- to testify.

"It would seem to me highly irregular that a suspect in a homicide case would ever testify before a grand jury because it could severely compromise their defense. I'm really amazed," Winkelman said.

Hobbled by his injuries from the shooting, White walked slowly with a cane as he arrived about 2 p.m. at a red brick Upper Marlboro office building where secret grand jury proceedings are sometimes held. White, in a charcoal-gray suit, ducked his head as he and Clark's mother, Marilynn Clark, moved through a gantlet of TV cameras and reporters who fired a barrage of questions at him. He did not respond.

Sources with knowledge of the case, who requested anonymity because of grand jury secrecy rules, said the panel's term is expected to expire in a month or so. If no decision is made by the end of the grand jury's term, prosecutors could take the unusual step of asking for an extension.

In a brief interview, Washington said White -- who was convicted in the early 1990s in South Carolina of assault, receiving stolen property and burglary -- was not authorized to work for Marlo. An attorney for White and for Clark's family said the movers were working for a subcontractor hired by Marlo to deliver furniture.

Washington has also said that he fired at the unarmed men after finding them in a part of the house where they weren't supposed to be and that the shooting was in self-defense.

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