A Southeast man was killed in an exchange of gunfire, and five U.S. Park Police officers were put on leave with pay yesterday after an incident in which a robbery suspect led police on an automobile chase from the Mall to Southeast Washington and crashed into a patrol car, a U.S. Park Police spokesman said yesterday.
Police identified the man as Eric E. Bennett, 19, of 2024 36th St. SE. He was taken to Greater Southeast Community Hospital with multiple gunshot wounds, where he was pronounced dead at about 1:25 a.m. yesterday, police said.
A second man, identified by police as Stanley Ronald Briscoe, 20, of 239 53rd St. NE, was arrested uninjured in connection with the incident and charged with armed robbery.
The five officers were put on leave pending an internal investigation of the incident, a police spokesman said. Leave is routinely ordered when an officer's gun is discharged resulting in death or injury.
There is no sign that the five officers acted improperly, Park Police Lt. Charles Clements said. D.C. police also are investigating the incident.
Police said the events began at about 12:40 a.m. yesterday, when officers conducting a stakeout around the Reflecting Pool prompted by a rash of robberies there saw two men rob three people at gunpoint of an undisclosed sum of cash.
According to park police reports, the two then ran to a gray Toyota parked several hundred yards away on West Basin Drive. One of them got into the driver's seat as officers closed in. The other, trying to open one of the passenger doors, found it was locked, and was left behind.
When the driver tried to run down an officer approaching on foot, the officer opened fire with his service revolver, Clements said. It was unclear yesterday whether the man also fired at the officers.
Two other officers also fired their weapons as the driver tried to escape, according to police. One suspect was arrested at the scene without incident, police said.
With two park police cruisers in pursuit, the Toyota sped onto the Southwest Freeway, turned onto South Capitol Street, then went up Interstate 295 on the Anacostia side of the Potomac River and entered Pennsylvania Avenue, park police said.
The chase ended at the intersection of W Street and Branch Avenue SE, where the Toyota collided with a police car and turned over, according to police. "The subject climbed out of the vehicle, where another exchange of gunfire reportedly occurred," a police statement said.
Clements said one police car was struck twice in the exchange, once on the hood and windshield wiper and once in the left side near the headlight.
Two officers on the scene opened fire, and the suspect suffered multiple wounds and was captured, according to police, who said that a .38-caliber revolver that had been fired was recovered at the scene. It was not clear whether the man or the officers began shooting first.
The five officers were identified as James W. Wayland, 35; Andrew C. Husser, 33; Thomas P. Clark, 30; John Murphy, 39, and Albert F. Jez, 32.