Former Council Member's Trial Starts in Georgetown Tattoo Parlor Fracas

By Keith L. Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 16, 2009

An attorney for former D.C. Council member Harold Brazil said in D.C. Superior Court yesterday that his client did not assault a manager of a Georgetown tattoo parlor in October, but was instead attacked by three of the shop's employees.

Brazil, who represented Ward 6 as an at-large member from 1991 to 2005, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault after an Oct. 9 brawl at the Jinx Proof Tattoo parlor at 3285 1/2 M St. NW.

According to prosecutors, Brazil, 60, entered the shop with his secretary and a female friend after having drinks at Smith & Wollensky that evening. One of women went into the back of the shop to get a tattoo. When Brazil's secretary sought to check on her, the shop's manager objected and pointed to a sign that said only patrons getting a tattoo were permitted in the back of the store. Brazil objected to how the manager spoke to his secretary.

Prosecutors said Brazil, in a drunken rage, attacked the manager, which caused co-workers to jump to the manager's aid to help restrain Brazil.

But Brazil's attorney, G. Allen Dale, said the manager, who was white, called Brazil a racial epithet. Brazil is African American. At one point during the altercation, Dale and witnesses said, Brazil urinated on himself. After the incident, Brazil was taken to a nearby hospital, complaining of pains in his head, neck and right knee. In his opening statement, Dale said Brazil had two glasses of wine that evening.

The manager, Francis Bradley Payton V, testified that he never used a racial slur. None of the police reports from Brazil or his friends indicated that Payton had used such a slur.

In his report to police, Payton said Brazil punched him. However, under Dale's questioning, Payton testified that Brazil pushed him and swung at him, but missed.

Brazil, if convicted, faces a minimum sentence of probation and a maximum of 180 days in jail.

Payton, who appeared in court after prosecutors subpoenaed him, said he didn't believe Brazil should face jail time or a harsh punishment. He said Brazil should undergo anger management or alcohol counseling. "It wasn't that big of a deal. Brazil made a mistake. This whole thing has been blown out of proportion."

During the trial, Brazil, who is an attorney, sat quietly at the defense table.

Payton said Brazil became agitated when Payton refused to allow the secretary to check on the friend who was getting a tattoo. Payton said he and two co-workers pinned Brazil to the floor after he lunged at them. Payton said he also put Brazil in a headlock.

The nonjury trial is being heard by Judge Jennifer M. Anderson. The trial is scheduled to resume Monday with Brazil's testimony.

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