FBI to Investigate Killing by Officer

The FBI said yesterday that it has opened a civil rights investigation into the death of a Lanham man who was fatally shot by a Prince George's County police officer last weekend.

The case is the sixth FBI investigation into possible civil rights violations by Prince George's County law enforcement officers this year.

Peter A. Gulotta Jr., an FBI spokesman in Baltimore, said agents are looking into the circumstances surrounding the death of 19-year-old Gary Albert Hopkins Jr., who was shot to death by an off-duty police officer early Saturday at the West Lanham Hills Fire Department. Prince George's police said Hopkins had lunged at another officer and tried to grab the officer's gun.

Gulotta said the FBI often investigates civilian deaths when they result from police actions. He said the findings will be turned over to Justice Department officials, who will decide whether to prosecute.

Starr Staffers Subpoenaed in Tripp Case

The prosecutor in the Linda R. Tripp wiretapping case yesterday subpoenaed five current and former members of Kenneth W. Starr's former office.

Requests to appear in Howard County Circuit Court on Dec. 13 were sent to Stephen Binhak, Stephen Bates, Jackie Bennett and Bruce Udolf, who all served as deputy independent counsels during Starr's investigation of President Clinton's relationship with former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky. Steve Irons, an investigator with the office, also was subpoenaed.

Tripp is charged with illegally taping a phone conversation with Lewinsky and illegally disclosing its contents to Newsweek magazine. Each charge carries a maximum of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The Dec. 13 hearing will focus on whether Tripp's 1998 immunity deal with Starr's office prevents State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli from using the audio tape in question against her. Without the tape, his case could be crippled. Those who were subpoenaed yesterday are expected to testify in court that the tapes cannot be used.

Warehouse Burns in Fairmount Heights

Prince George's County fire officials were searching yesterday for the cause of a two-alarm warehouse fire that caused an estimated $50,000 in damage.

No one was injured in the blaze, which was discovered about 1:30 p.m. at the Joseph Smith & Sons recycling building in the 1800 block of Olive Street in Fairmount Heights, fire department spokesman Mark Brady said. The building was used to store engine parts and other recyclable materials, and some homeless people were using it as a place to keep warm.

Brady said 60 firefighters helped extinguish the blaze, but not before the roof and a wall collapsed. The cause of the fire is under investigation.


Man Convicted of July Slaying in SE

Thomas Harris was angry about a breakup with his girlfriend. He thought the woman's family was responsible and he decided to retaliate, a D.C. Superior Court jury was told. James "Tank" Cabell, the girlfriend's nephew, soon died of two gunshots to the head.

A jury late Monday convicted Harris, 28, of first-degree premeditated murder in the July 5 death of Cabell in the 4900 block of F Street SE. Prosecutors said he grabbed a gun from a vacant house, seeing a chance to kill Cabell during a fistfight.

Harris, a onetime Landover resident and former member of the Eastgate Crew, had been tried twice and finally acquitted of the 1992 murder of Willie "Bucky" Caesar. He is awaiting trial in a 1990 Eastgate killing. He faces a prison term of at least 30 years to life in Cabell's slaying when sentenced Feb. 18 by Judge Henry F. Greene.

Staff writers Craig Whitlock, Raja Mishra, Tracey A. Reeves and Peter Slevin contributed to this report.