Prince George's police beat man at pizza shop, witnesses say

"I was trying to get a job," says Prince Duncan-Lollis, 20. (Marvin Joseph/the Washington Post)
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By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 11, 2010

Prince A. Duncan-Lollis wandered behind the counter of a Papa John's pizza shop in the Largo area one recent night to ask the manager about a job, he said.

The manager told Duncan-Lollis, 20, to leave, and when he didn't, the man called Prince George's County police.

Moments later, Duncan-Lollis was facedown on the ground outside, being punched and kicked by at least two officers, according to two witnesses. One officer ground Duncan-Lollis's face into a rock in a flower bed, one witness said.

Duncan-Lollis, who is 5-foot-8 and weighs 150 pounds, did not fight back or try to escape, the witnesses said. In separate interviews, each witness described the officers' actions as "terrible." The witnesses spoke on the condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation from police.

Maj. Andy Ellis, a police spokesman, said the officers used the proper amount of force. Police reports indicate that Duncan-Lollis was combative and might have been under the influence of drugs, perhaps PCP, which made him behave irrationally, Ellis said.

"He was resisting, absolutely," Ellis said. "He did not want to be handcuffed. He did not want to leave. He was not listening to the officers' commands. It took four officers to put handcuffs on him." One witness, a pizza shop employee, told police that Duncan-Lollis shoved an officer and seemed to reach for the officer's gun, Ellis said.

Duncan-Lollis has not been charged with a crime, Ellis said, because officers did not believe he could discern right from wrong and form criminal intent. Officer Robert Wiggins, one of the first at the scene, filed a petition for an emergency psychiatric evaluation. Wiggins wrote that Duncan-Lollis appeared to be mentally impaired: "PCP intoxication and hallucinations."

Duncan-Lollis was taken to Prince George's Hospital Center and spent four days in the psychiatric ward before being released on Monday. Duncan-Lollis and his parents said he has no history of mental impairment. Duncan-Lollis said he asked the hospital for the results of a drug test conducted during his stay but that they were not provided.

The incident occurred about 10 p.m. March 31 at a strip shopping center on Lake Arbor Way. In an interview, Duncan-Lollis, of District Heights, denied that he was under the influence of drugs or that he resisted police. Five days after the encounter, his eyes were bloodshot. Duncan-Lollis said an eye doctor gave him medication and advised him not to read for a while.

"I didn't do anything. I was trying to get a job," Duncan-Lollis said. He said an officer who escorted him out of the pizza shop asked for identification, and when Duncan-Lollis reached toward his back pocket to get it, the officer knocked him to the ground.

"I turned my head to the right and saw another officer coming. I was [pepper-sprayed], and I couldn't see anymore," Duncan-Lollis said. After that, he said, he felt blows to his face and torso.

Duncan-Lollis acknowledged that he walked behind the pizza counter. The manager on duty at the time, Henry Rodriguez, 20, said in an interview that he told Duncan-Lollis to leave, an admonishment Duncan-Lollis ignored. Rodriguez said Duncan-Lollis behaved strangely, made an odd remark and used foul language but was not threatening.

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