By Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 19, 2009
A D.C. area native-turned-NBA player was arrested in Prince George's County on Thursday after a police officer who pulled him over on the Beltway found that he was carrying three loaded guns, authorities said.
Delonte West, 26, a graduate of Greenbelt's Eleanor Roosevelt High School and a guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers, was traveling north on the Beltway in a three-wheeled motorcycle called a Can-Am Spyder when he cut off a Prince George's canine officer near Route 214, authorities said. The officer pulled over West for making an "unsafe lane change," police said, and when the officer approached the motorcycle, West told him he had a handgun in his waistband.
That prompted the officer to call for backup and search West's vehicle. He found three guns -- a Beretta 9mm in West's waistband, a Ruger .357 magnum strapped to his leg and a shotgun in a guitar case slung over his back, said Maj. Andy Ellis, a spokesman for the Prince George's police.
Police charged West with two criminal counts of carrying a handgun for the Ruger and the Beretta, and issued him a traffic citation for driving "in excess of reasonable and prudent speed," court records show. Ellis said West was within his rights to carry the shotgun.
It is not clear why West was so heavily armed or why he was traveling alone in the Largo area at 10 p.m. on a Thursday, Ellis said. West's father, Dmitri West, said, "All I can say is Delonte was looking behind his back and protecting himself." He said his son was looking out for both specific people and because he was generally concerned about his well-being as a high-profile athlete. He declined to say who might be targeting the NBA star.
"Bottom line is there's a lot of not-too-nice people out here," Dmitri West said.
Ellis said he did not know what, if anything, West said to the officers who arrested him. But he said West "was very cooperative the entire time."
Police arrested West and seized his guns and his motorcycle, Ellis said. He was released from jail early Friday on his personal recognizance, court records show. He is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 20.
No one answered the door at West's home in Brandywine, and no one returned a written message left there seeking a comment. Cavaliers General Manager Danny Ferry released a statement saying: "We are aware of the situation and take this matter very seriously. We have been in communication with Delonte and his family. We are gathering more information and will not have further comment until the appropriate time."
West was named The Post's All-Met Player of the Year in 2001 after his senior season at Eleanor Roosevelt. He went on to play three seasons at Saint Joseph's and turned professional after teaming with back-court mate Jameer Nelson to lead the Hawks to a 30-2 record and a region final appearance in the 2004 NCAA tournament. He was drafted 24th overall by the Boston Celtics in 2004 and was traded to the Cavaliers after the 2006-07 season.
West recently got married and purchased a $1.05 million home in Fort Washington. He missed several games for the Cavaliers last season with a broken wrist, but was a contributor in the team's run to the Eastern Conference finals.