Remember the ugly brawl which broke out last month at the hip-hop awards show in Crystal City? Now it’s true that “hip-hop” and “awards show” tend to have the words “brawl” or “gunplay” in the same paragraph, but typically a few chairs are tossed, some words are exchanged and then everybody hits the clubs.

Not at the DMV Awards at the Crystal City Hyatt Regency. Five people went to the hospital, two were seriously injured. The bartender in the video below lost his left eye. Arlington police are still trying to figure out who’s responsible, and they’ve taken a novel approach: They filmed and edited their own interview with the victim and released it directly to the public on YouTube, hoping to convince witnesses to come forward.

I spoke to some victim-witness advocates who agreed that this was an unusual tactic. It bypasses the filter of the news media, and whatever subjective cuts and comments those people might make. It allows the police to manage the message and protect the victim. They also get a lot more time than the standard one minute 45 second package of local TV news. In this case, Arlington Detective Crystal Nosal said, the victim did not want to speak directly with the media because his face was so mangled. The police video obscures his face.

But the video may reach far fewer people than it would on a broadcast news program, unless it somehow “goes viral.” It also doesn’t provide the dramatic context of how the man was injured [that is here], or any other voices from that night or from the man’s family, the sort of heart-tugging stuff that can make the story more memorable to viewers. Some George Mason University students who watched the video Thursday said they might question its credibility: Did the police really put this together, or is it a hoax?

Unknown suspect in DMV melee in Crystal City. Also seen in video hanging around outside after the brawl. (Arlington County police)

The police also released still photos of one of the suspects, a woman who allegedly assaulted the victim and who would seem to be awfully recognizable in that outfit and those shoes. The Hyatt is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to her conviction alone. If you know her or anyone else involved, call Detective John Donaggio at 703-228-4167 or e-mail him at