A mistrial was declared yesterday in the case of a D.C. police officer charged with destruction of property after he punctured the tire of a car that he had been pursuing.
D.C. Superior Court Judge George W. Mitchell announced the mistrial in the case of William J. Frye III after the jury said it could not reach a decision after deliberating since Wednesday.
According to court papers, Frye, 27, argued that he was following police procedure when he slashed the tire of a Corvette March 25 in an effort to disable it. The car was moving erratically through Georgetown and when he attempted to stop it, he said, the driver raced off at high speeds and through several red lights. Frye said he lost sight of it.
Frye said he later spotted the car, parked and unoccupied. He said he punctured a tire with a pen knife and started to search for the men he had seen in the car.
A short time later, the driver was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.
During the 2 1/2-day trial, Prosecutor Curtis Hall said police evidence showed that there was no high speed chase warranting an act of vandalism and Frye knew that a police department crane was available to tow the car that night. Established police department procedures regarding the impoundment of cars, Hall said in court documents, do not include puncturing the tires.
Frye was suspended without pay after the incident. A police spokesman said he will remain suspended until the case is resolved. The judge set a new trial for Oct. 28.