'Something Is Wrong Here'
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Then, on Feb. 22, 1995, according to court records, Officer Johnnie Ben Walker Jr. appeared in the store at Third and P streets NW. Walker, a 10-year police veteran with a history of citizen complaints, was investigating a Dunbar student's charge that An had shortchanged her on the $10 she paid for a package of cigarettes.
An had sent the student away, asking her to come back after he checked his daily register totals, according to An's account in interviews and court records. Walker appeared soon afterward.
Walker ordered the grocer to step from the register booth and show identification, according to An. "It seemed like he was saying, 'You're a bad person. You're a cheater,' " An said.
As he started to retrieve an ID from his upstairs apartment, An said, Walker grabbed him by the neck and threw him into the shelves. "I thought, 'Something is wrong here,' " An told The Post. "He couldn't be a police officer. He was too wild."
After being shoved, An said he erred by warning Walker, "I'll sue you."
Walker grabbed the grocer, shoved his face against the front door and pinned his arms behind him, according to An's complaint.
Several more police cars arrived. An was arrested, charged with assault and theft, and spent a night in jail. A judge dismissed the charges the next day.
An sued in February 1996, saying in his lawsuit that Walker caused permanent injuries to his shoulder and accusing the city of failing to "properly and adequately train, discipline, supervise or retrain" its officers.
District lawyers contended that An pushed Walker first, and a department investigation cleared Walker of any wrongdoing in October 1995, according to court papers. But the city settled with An last year for $50,000. Walker declined to be interviewed.
It was not the first time an excessive-force complaint had been lodged against Walker.
In 1988, while socializing at the East Side Club in Southwest Washington, Walker shot a man four times. Walker said he shot Kenneth Agnew, 24, after Agnew ignored an order to drop a gun he was carrying and aimed it at Walker, according to court papers.
Agnew survived and was charged with assaulting a police officer, but those charges were later dropped. He sued the District, saying that he did not have a gun and that Walker had never identified himself before shooting him. Although a gun was found near the scene, it did not have Agnew's fingerprints on it, court papers say. The city settled for $49,669. The department later found the shooting justified and cleared Walker.
Three years later, on Aug. 18, 1991, Walker shot at another man outside the East Side Club, where he was off duty and working as a security guard, according to police officials. The man ran away, apparently unharmed.
Three other citizens filed complaints with the Civilian Complaint Review Board from 1989 to 1991, alleging that Walker used excessive force and abusive language. But these matters were dropped because the citizens did not pursue them, records show.
In June 1993, Walker was charged with assault with a deadly weapon in the District after his girlfriend accused him of kicking her in the head and stabbing her in the arm, according to court papers. Charges were dropped the next day. Walker was suspended for five days for bringing "discredit to the department," police documents show.
A month later, Walker was suspended for 20 days for giving false statements, according to police documents. The circumstances surrounding the suspension are unclear.
On March 24, 1997, Walker's wife at the time pressed charges against him for destruction of property in Prince George's County; she later dropped the charges.
Two months later, the police department suspended Walker for 30 days for "conduct unbecoming" an officer, according to police officials. A month after that, Walker, who is 6 feet 3 and weighs 245 pounds, was charged with second-degree assault for allegedly striking his wife in the face. He was placed on administrative leave for a year with pay, police documents show. The charges were dropped last March.
Walker recently returned to patrol in the 1st Police District, which encompasses Capitol Hill. A spokesman for the department's executive assistant chief said no charges were pending against Walker and "our hands are tied."
"Johnnie Walker was a hell of a street cop," said former police lieutenant Lowell Duckett. "He came on during a violent time, and he showed a tremendous amount of courage. If he had been given the proper guidance, he would be an excellent police officer."
Meanwhile, An's encounter with Walker changed his life. He sold his market and moved his family to another neighborhood.
"When I saw police officers pass by for about a year afterward, I prayed," said An, now 40. "I worried they would hurt my family."
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