Washington Redskins cornerback Vernon Dean yesterday was found guilty of obstructing justice after a Fairfax County police officer testified that it took four officers and a chokehold to restrain Dean because of his "offensive manner."
Judge Richard T. Horan gave Dean a $100 suspended fine on the misdemeanor charge, which arose out of a domestic dispute along Leesburg Pike May 16 between Dean, 27, and his fiance.
"I think you and the lady have learned a lesson," said Horan, who could have jailed Dean for 12 months and fined him $1,000. Dean was originally charged with assaulting a police officer, also a misdemeanor, but that charge was amended yesterday.
Officer R.M. Dean took the witness stand at the General District Court, the county's lower court, in which judges decide cases. He said that, when he responded to a citizen's call last month, he found the defendant and Chartese Berry, 24, a sales representative for Xerox, arguing outside Vernon Dean's Porsche. The officer said Berry asked him for a ride to the McLean District Station. Dean followed them to the station, where he grabbed Berry by the arms and "half dragged, half carried her" to a vestibule about 12 feet away, J.J. Greeves, another officer, testified.
Greeves testified that Berry then called for help. At that point, police intervened, he said. Greeves said he told Vernon Dean that he was under arrest -- for allegedly assaulting Berry -- at which point he said Dean adopted an "offensive manner."
Greeves testified that Dean was "flailing his arms," and "it was pretty much a pile of people on the floor." He said that, while he held Dean in a chokehold, other officers bound Dean's hands and feet.
Dean and Berry didn't remember it that way yesterday. Dean said he was merely trying to talk to Berry at the station, and a "caress became a grip." Berry, who did not press any charge, said that she never felt threatened by Dean and that her voice merely became "emotional."
Dean, wearing a dark suit, testified that he kept telling police he and Berry would be fine. "Yeah, we were involved in a little argument that I thought was personal," he said in response to an attorney's question. "I kept saying we'll be all right." Then he said the officers took his arms and he went down.
"I'm gasping for air," said Dean, who came out of the ruckus with a chipped tooth and black eye. "I'm saying, is all this necessary? . . . This arm is twisted all the way over here," he said, demonstrating.
Horan agreed with Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh, who prosecuted the case, that the officers were "duty-bound" to intervene when Berry called for help.
Dean, Berry and Joe O. Wiggs, Dean's lawyer, all declined to comment yesterday after the trial.
In Honolulu yesterday, a mistrial was declared in the bribery case against Walter Murray, a second-round draft pick of the Redskins.
Circuit Judge Robert Klein declared the mistrial after a jury reported that it was deadlocked after deliberating about 10 hours.
Robert Luck, a special assistant to prosecutor Karen Ahn, said Murray will be retried.
"We'll know in the next day or so when we'll do it," Luck said. "We'll try to determine whether to wait for the football season to be over or do it now. We're working with the defense attorney on it."
Murray, 23, a former wide receiver at the University of Hawaii, is accused of offering a police officer two tickets to a UH football game if he overlooked a traffic violation.