The Washington Post

Officer who allegedly shot handcuffed man indicted on attempted-murder charge

The District Heights police sergeant who allegedly shot a handcuffed suspect in the back in September was indicted on attempted murder and five related charges Thursday as prosecutors say his conduct was not just improper, but criminal.

Sgt. Johnnie Riley was being held without bond — charged with attempted murder, first- and second-degree assault, using a handgun in a violent crime and two counts of misconduct in office, authorities said. He is accused of shooting Calvin Kyle, 26, in the back after Kyle, a suspect in a motorcycle theft, got out of a police cruiser and tried to run.

Family members said Kyle — who still is facing theft, escape and resisting arrest charges stemming from the incident in which he was shot — is undergoing rehabilitation. They said Riley’s indictment brings little comfort, knowing Kyle will probably never walk again.

“I just feel like the system definitely failed him, and it shouldn’t have got to this point,” said Latonya Kyle, Calvin Kyle’s sister. “I would have to wait until it goes to court. I just really don’t have the confidence that [Riley will] actually go to prison.”

Christopher A. Griffiths, Kyle’s attorney, said Kyle was released from the hospital Wednesday although he remains paralyzed from the waist down. He said Kyle was “encouraged to see that the prosecutor’s office is moving forward on the case.”

“We think they’re the right charges,” Griffiths said. “This clearly was an attempted first-degree murder.”

C.T. Wilson, Riley’s attorney, said his client voluntarily turned himself in Thursday afternoon. “Mr. Riley has been patient, waiting and cooperating as best he could with the state and the investigation,” Wilson said.

District Heights police officials did not immediately return phone and e-mail messages Thursday night seeking comment.

From the start, investigators seemed to be treating the Sept. 6 incident as criminal rather than as a justified police shooting.

Kyle had been pulled over, handcuffed and put in a police cruiser after he was seen riding a stolen motorcycle near County Road and Marlboro Pike in District Heights, prosecutors said.

As Riley attended to other matters, Kyle got out of the cruiser and began to run, prosecutors said.

That is when Riley shot Kyle in the back, officials have said.

Latonya Kyle said that some days her brother is grateful to be alive, while others he is morose over his injuries.

She said she is unsure what will become of him.

“He was homeless before he went in,” Latonya Kyle said. “So who’s going to take care of him now?”

Matt Zapotosky covers the federal district courthouse in Alexandria, where he tries to break news from a windowless office in which he is not allowed to bring his cell phone.

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