Vernon Dean's fiance said yesterday that the Washington Redskins cornerback "never hit me" during an incident at a Fairfax County police station Friday night and Dean's attorney said Dean himself was "attacked by several police officers."
Chartese Berry, 24, a sales representative for Xerox who works in Northern Virginia and lives in the District, said in an interview yesterday, "I am being cited as a victim of an assault; no one ever laid a hand on me, not once . . . If everything had happened the way they [police] said, I wouldn't have been able to walk, much less work. It is such a joke."
Police had said Monday that Dean struck Berry several times with his fist at a McLean police station and "became extremely violent" when an officer intervened.
"Vernon Dean did not strike anyone," said Los Angeles-based attorney Leonard Armato, who said he spoke with Dean by telephone yesterday concerning the incident, which resulted in Dean being charged with assaulting a police officer and driving with a suspended operator's license.
Berry said she and Dean were arguing in the 9000 block of Leesburg Pike when an officer arrived. She said she left with the officer and went with him to a McLean police station because she thought it would be a good idea for both her and Dean to "cool off."
At the station, she said she left to go outside where Dean was waiting, and on her way back in to the station, Dean put his hand on her to stop her. She said police then told Dean he was under arrest and that Dean told police, "Look, get off me, I'm okay."
"They're claiming he assaulted a police officer," she said. "That's crazy.
" . . . If anyone, especially Vernon, had hit me with a fist, I wouldn't be here telling you right now."
Dean said yesterday he has been told by Armato not to comment.
In a telephone interview from Los Angeles, Armato said, "I'm saying they [police] attacked him because he was not cooperating with their decision to intervene in what was essentially a domestic squabble . . . This is something that's been blown out of proportion by police trying to cover up their conduct. It's typical of the way they deal with black athletes.
"A police officer comes on the scene, a black guy is involved . . . The cops say to him, 'I don't care who you are,' then they say a guy is resisting arrest . . . They always say they're assaulting the police. It's a typical excuse police give for reprehensible conduct . . . They have to justify the arrest. I'm getting tired of it."
Fairfax County police spokeswoman Connie Curran, asked to respond to Armato, said, "I'm so glad you mentioned that black part, because the officer involved in the arrest was black." She also indicated it is police policy not to identify the officer involved.
"We got a call [about the argument], and it was not an anonymous tip, we have the person's name," Curran said. "The officer responded. Both people [Dean and Berry] were out of their cars. The woman came up to the officer and he asked her if she wanted to go to the McLean station. She thought that was a great idea.
"The officer escorted the girl into the station, and then Mr. Dean came into the station. That's where he struck his fiance, in the presence of the officer, who is black. He was the only officer around. She screamed and she cried. The officer then ordered him to stop and he became violent. At that point, the officer grabbed Dean and said, 'You are under arrest.'
"Now there is a scuffle in front of the desk person, and two other officers assisted. It was a long scuffle . . . I read the report. It was not a cooperative arrest.
"If we wanted to cover up our actions, why didn't the scuffle take place out on the street where the officer first encountered them? We try not to make an arrest in a family or domestic squabble. The primary thing is to break it up. We try to get people apart and suggest that one or the other leave. We tried to defuse this situation.
"The allegations being made by the attorney are in direct conflict with the officer's report . . . He [Dean] had no business following her [to McLean]."
Armato said yesterday that Dean did not think police should have been involved.
"Vernon was disturbed that people were interfering in this argument," he said. "I don't think there's any evidence that he struck her. He may have held onto her arm while she pulled away . . . He knew she was upset. All he was doing was trying to keep her from doing something reckless. He was concerned for her safety.
". . . Vernon was holding her arm and probably said some things to the officers they didn't like. Police have to justify their conduct . . . "
Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. said he could not talk specifically about the case but said, "Once the emotions cool in cases like this, people tend to put a different face on it. That's the reality of domestic cases in general. We have an endless number of cases where someone on Friday or Saturday night files a criminal charge and on Monday there's a different view of it.
"The normal way of dealing with it is to put the case on and let the umpire decide. That's what we'll do."
Dean, who was released on personal recognizance bonds totaling $500 Friday night, has a court date June 17 at General District Court in Fairfax. If convicted on the assault charge, a misdemeanor, he could be sentenced to one year in jail. The suspended license charge carries a maximum six months in jail and a $500 fine.
Armato said he would decide in the next day or two whether to come east or arrange for a local attorney to handle Dean's case.