The D.C. police department is investigating allegations that an off-duty police captain tried to flee from the scene of a single car accident Tuesday night, was taken to a hospital in handcuffs after a scuffle with three D.C. police officers, and was not charged with any offense, according to the department official conducting the inquiry.
Deputy Chief Max J. Krupo, who is in charge of the investigation, identified the captain as Winston Robinson Jr., a 15-year veteran of the force. Officials said the accident occurred after Robinson left a 50th birthday party for D.C. Police Chief Maurice T. Turner Jr. at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Capitol Hill.
Krupo said that police officers at the accident scene did not know that Robinson, the department's liaison officer with the D.C. Office of Personnel, was a member of the force, and that Robinson originally gave the officers a fictitious name.
An officer on the scene broadcast over the police radio that he intended to charge Robinson, 36, with disorderly conduct, Krupo said. Robinson was not charged, and his name does not appear on the arrest book at the police department's 1st District headquarters. The accident occurred in that district. Following the accident and the alleged scuffle with police officers at the scene, Krupo said, Robinson was taken in handcuffs to the emergency room at D.C. General Hospital for treatment of a head injury received in the accident. Robinson refused treatment at the hospital.
Assistant Chief Carl V. Profater, head of the department's Administrative Services Bureau and Robinson's boss, went to the hospital and drove the captain home.
Profater said in an interview this week that none of the police at the hospital had mentioned any problems with Robinson's behavior at the accident scene. He said he went to the hospital at Robinson's request.
Robinson is on leave and could not be reached for comment. Krupo said that in an interview about the accident, Robinson said he remembered nothing from the time of the crash until after his arrival at the hospital.
Krupo, commander of the 1st District, said he was ordered by Profater to conduct an investigation of the incident. Krupo said he has taken about eight statements from persons involved with the incident and hopes to have a preliminary report completed by tomorrow.
The accident occurred about 11:40 p.m. Tuesday when the car Robinson was driving eastbound on New York Avenue, a gray Datsun Maxima, went out of control and crashed into a tree in front of 206 New York Ave. NW, according to a police accident report.
Officer Ricardo J. Chen, a uniformed officer from the 1st District on routine patrol, pulled up at the scene shortly after the accident occurred and called for backup units, Krupo said. About the time two other officers arrived, Krupo said, Robinson allegedly began running and the officers gave chase.
"When they went to place his arm behind his back in order to handcuff him , that's when they struggled," Krupo said. He said the struggle was not a violent one.
Though officer Chen made a radio broadcast asking for a police department number to place on a form charging Robinson with disorderly conduct, Krupo said, it was unclear yesterday who made the decision not to charge him and whether the decision was made before or after it was learned that Robinson was a member of the department.
It was also unclear why Robinson's name does not appear on an arrest book. According to numerous police sources, it is standard procedure to enter the name in an arrest book in circumstances such as those alleged in this case.
The sources said it is also standard procedure that any persons involved in an accident submit to blood tests at the hospital. A hospital spokeswoman said there is no record of Robinson having been given one.
Krupo said he did not know if Robinson was carrying a service revolver, badge or police identification, which all officers are required to carry in the District even when they are off duty. Krupo said he assumed that officers at the accident scene searched Robinson.
Assistant Chief Profater said that when he arrived at the hospital to drive Robinson home, a police officer at the hospital told him Robinson had been "very, very much disoriented" at the accident scene. Profater said he was told at the hospital that Robinson was not under arrest.
The police department accident report, signed by officer Chen and his supervisor, Sgt. Verna Olszewski, says that no arrest was made and makes no mention of whether Robinson attempted to leave the scene or if he was handcuffed. It states that the driver "appeared disoriented after the accident."
The report lists Robinson's permit number as unknown and his business address and phone number as not applicable. In sections of the report where boxes are checked to indicate such things as road surface and driving conditions, it listed Robinson's condition as "fatigued" and said that speed was a contributing factor in the accident. Another contributing factor, according to the report, was a box marked "other."
The report contains a section where the officer must note whether the driver "had been drinking," "had not been drinking," or "other." The box for "other" is checked.