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Four more Prince George's officers suspended in alleged moonlighting misconduct

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By Ruben Castaneda and Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, November 8, 2010; 6:33 PM

Four additional Prince George's County police officers have been suspended in connection with an incident last month in which an officer who was moonlighting as a security guard hit a college student outside a party in Beltsville, authorities said Monday.

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Officer Dominique Richardson was suspended after the Oct. 30 incident, in which Steven Morales, 20, said Richardson knocked him on the ground with a punch, then placed him in a chokehold.

Police Chief Roberto L. Hylton has suspended four more officers, who also were moonlighting at the party, officials said.

Maj. Andrew Ellis, a police spokesman, said the officers are being suspended pending an internal investigation to determine whether they saw and failed to report misconduct by another officer.

Investigators are trying "to sort out who did what," Ellis said. He declined to identify the additional officers suspended.

Morales, a student at the College of Southern Maryland, said he was trying to get into a fraternity party at a Beltsville warehouse when he asked Richardson, who was guarding the door, for help. The party was crowded and other partygoers pushed him forward, he said.

The officer told Morales to get in line, Morales said. Morales said he responded that he couldn't because he was hemmed in. He said he was pushed toward the officer and might have brushed against him.

That was when the officer hit him, Morales said.

Police never arrested Morales or accused him of a crime. None of the officers offered him medical aid even though he was bleeding, Morales said.

Documents and police sources identified the other suspended officers as: Officer Luis Perez, Officer Marcus Elbert, Officer Terrence Sanders and Officer Charles Pickard.

Richardson and the others are suspended with pay.

Richardson has not returned phone calls. The other officers declined to comment through Vince Canales, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 89.

In an interview, Morales said that after he was slugged and knocked to the ground, Richardson briefly placed him in a chokehold. Another police officer picked him up and placed him against the hood of a police car, Morales said.

When he turned to look at the two officers, Richardson shouted, " 'Get the [expletive] out of here,' " Morales said.

The force of the punch almost knocked out one of his front teeth, Morales said. Morales's father, Luciano Morales, a D.C. police officer, said he spoke with Richardson shortly after the incident. Richardson acknowledged that he hit Steven and accused the younger Morales of assaulting him, Luciano Morales said. Richardson did not explain why he did not charge Steven or seek medical assistance for him, Luciano Morales said.

Hylton banned officers from moonlighting at the Beltsville warehouse.

castanedar@washpost.com zapotoskym@washpost.com


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