U.S. Capitol Police officer acquitted in National Harbor assault case
Thursday, February 17, 2011; 10:20 PM
A U.S. Capitol Police officer who was charged with pointing his gun at two members of a Michigan family after he and the tourists had mistakenly been given the same hotel room at National Harbor was found not guilty of assault charges Thursday.
Prince George's County Circuit Court Judge James P. Salmon acquitted Victor E. Bryant, 37, of multiple counts of first- and second-degree assault in connection with the Aug. 14, 2009, incident at the Hampton Inn at National Harbor. Salmon also acquitted Bryant's girlfriend, Angela Montgomery, 29, who was charged with two counts of second-degree assault.
Bryant and Montgomery had waived their right to a jury trial in favor of a bench trial.
"It was the correct outcome," said Theresa L. Moore, attorney for Bryant and Montgomery.
In her closing argument, Moore said the testimony of her clients was more credible than the testimony of state witnesses.
The case was prosecuted by Jason Knight, an assistant state's attorney in Baltimore. Prince George's prosecutors referred the case to avoid a conflict of interest because Assistant State's Attorney C.T. Wilson was summoned to the scene by a hotel worker and was a potential witness.
In a previous interview, Bryant said he and Montgomery checked into a room on the 11th floor of the hotel about 6 p.m. The couple planned to attend a concert, and because they might be drinking, they decided to get a room and spend the night rather than drive home. Bryant and Montgomery live in Charles County.
Bryant testified that he placed his service weapon under a mattress because he knew he would be drinking and did not want to make any bad decisions while he had a gun. He testified that he was also worried about pickpockets who might be in the crowd at the concert.
After Bryant and Montgomery went out for the evening, a hotel worker assigned their room to members of a family from Michigan who were in the Washington area for a family gathering. The officer and his girlfriend learned their room was occupied when they returned, sometime between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m., according to trial testimony. The key worked, but the door was latched.
Raymond Day, 52, one of the members of the Michigan family, testified that Bryant and Montgomery then returned to the room with a hotel employee, and Day said he unlatched the door. Bryant barged in and retrieved his gun from under the mattress, Day testified.
Montgomery also barged in and immediately began screaming racial epithets at him, his sister and another family member who was in the room, Day testified. The Day family is black. Bryant and Montgomery are white. Day said Montgomery later charged at him and began hitting him in the chest. Day tried to block her blows and warned that if she didn't stop, he would knock her out, he testified.
At that point, Day testified, Bryant put the gun to his temple and said, "Man, I will blow you away."
Matthew Golden, the hotel worker who went into the room, testified that Bryant pointed his gun at Day's head. Golden also testified that when he stepped in between the two men, Bryant briefly pointed at his head.
Bryant testified that he never pointed his gun at anyone. "Absolutely not," he testified.
Bryant testified that Capitol Police officials suspended him for five days without pay for improperly securing his weapon. Bryant also was put on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the criminal charges.