D.C. police officers opened fire on two unarmed suspects who allegedly threatened officers in separate incidents yesterday, killing one man and slightly injuring another.
In the first case, police said, officers discovered a man sexually assaulting a woman in Northeast Washington shortly after 7 a.m. They gave chase and fatally shot the suspect when he appeared to reach for a weapon, a police commander said yesterday.
Police said that in the second incident, a naked man claiming to be God at the intersection of Minnesota Avenue and L'Enfant Square SE tried to climb into Lt. Frank Hill's patrol car about 3:30 p.m. Hill got out of the car and was knocked down while trying to subdue the man. Police said Hill feared for his safety and fired a shot that grazed the man, who was later charged with violent assault on a police officer. Hill was treated for minor injuries.
Rodney Monroe, commander of the 6th District, in which both shootings occurred, said at a news conference after the first shooting that the use of force was justified.
"Based on my initial review, the officers responded appropriately," Monroe said. He added that he was "proud" of officers Robie Warren, Tony Thompson and Charles Jones for interrupting the sexual assault before the victim was seriously hurt.
Warren, 31, and Thompson, 35, both nine-year veterans of the force, fired the fatal shots and have been placed on routine administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into the shooting. The woman was hospitalized with minor cuts and bruises, Monroe said. The suspect, identified as Taurus L. Jackson, 27, was shot three times. He was pronounced dead at D.C. General Hospital.
Both episodes will be reviewed by the police department's Force Investigation Team, and the findings will be presented to the U.S. attorney's office for review, police said. This year, Chief Charles H. Ramsey changed internal procedures for investigating shootings. The incidents used to be investigated by the police districts in which they occurred rather than by the specially trained department-wide team. In January, Ramsey also asked the Justice Department to review fatal shootings and evaluate police policies and training.
The chief's actions followed an investigation by The Washington Post that found D.C. police officers have shot and killed more people per capita during the past decade than any other major city police department.
In yesterday's fatal shooting, police said, the woman was walking from the Minnesota Avenue Metro station shortly after 7 a.m. when a man jumped from behind a tree near the intersection of 42nd Street and Hunt Place NE, grabbed her hair and demanded money.
He dragged her toward some bushes and pinned her to the ground. She was screaming for help as the assailant started to remove her clothing, when Warren and Jones passed by on routine patrol in a car, police said. The attacker fled, and Warren sprinted after him, while Jones stayed with the woman. Thompson, who was off-duty, happened to drive by and see Warren chasing the man. Thompson joined the pursuit on foot.
At the intersection of Sheriff Road and Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue, a long block from where the assault started, Warren and Thompson cornered the man. They identified themselves as officers and shouted "police commands" to the man, Monroe said. The man then made "threatening moves" toward the officers, including reaching into his waistband, Monroe said. Warren and Thompson opened fire. Two bullets fired by Warren and one fired by Thompson hit the man.
Staff writer Cheryl W. Thompson contributed to this report.