U.S. PARK POLICE
6 Officers Placed on Leave After Shooting in Trinidad
Friday, June 26, 2009
Six U.S. Park Police officers are on paid administrative leave after the fatal shooting this month of a man in Northeast, Park Police Chief Salvatore Lauro said last night, and the federal police force is steering clear of the neighborhood as the incident is investigated.
"We are making every attempt to stay out of the neighborhood at the current time until this is resolved," Lauro told more than 75 people at a community meeting.
Speaking publicly for the first time about the death of Trey Joyner, Lauro said the officers were in the Trinidad neighborhood on the night of June 8 because they had "developed information" about a man with a gun.
Authorities have said that the Park Police officers were part of an interagency task force responding to a report of an armed man. Plainclothes officers found Joyner, 25, and a struggle ensued when they tried to arrest him, leading to the shooting, authorities said. Police later recovered a gun at the scene.
But the officers were not acting as part of an FBI-led task force known as "Safe Streets," as Park Police officials said soon after the shooting, Lauro said.
"The information coming out was pretty hectic as this was going on," he said. Two of the six Park Police officers are assigned to that task force, "but this was not a Safe Streets case."
Lauro described the Park Police officers as senior members of the force. He said four were present when Joyner was shot, and two others nearby responded to the scene.
Authorities have not said why the federal officers were in Trinidad, but Park Police share a similar authority with D.C. police and have powers of arrest throughout the District. At last night's meeting, some people shouted that the Park Police should stay out of the neighborhood.
There are two investigations into the shooting, which angered many in the community and prompted questions about why federal officers were involved. Witnesses said that Joyner was shot in the back.
Joseph Persichini Jr., assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington field office, told the crowd his office is taking the lead on collecting evidence to be presented to the office of the U.S. attorney, which will decide whether to file criminal charges against the officers.
Persichini promised a fair probe.
"My job is to collect the facts, and I need your help. I can't do it without your help," Persichini said.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) told the group at Mount Horeb Baptist Church that the Justice Department's civil rights division is also looking into the shooting.
Deborah Alford, 43, who has lived in Trinidad for 38 years, was frustrated that authorities could not say when they expect to finish their investigation.
"If it was one of their people that got shot, they would have responded faster," Alford said.
Staff writer Martin Ricard contributed to this report.