The Washington Post

Metro officers won’t face civil rights charges in videotaped arrest of man in wheelchair

The Justice Department will not file civil rights charges against two Metro transit police officers for actions during an arrest of a man in a wheelchair that was widely disseminated on YouTube.

The two-minute video, authorities said, captured a May 19 incident in which the officers, who have not been named, arrested Dwight Harris for assault on an officer and drinking in public.

Metro has said the officers patrolling at the U Street Metro station in Northwest Washington spotted Harris drinking an alcoholic beverage. The officers lifted Harris off his motorized chair and later stood over him as he was on the ground, the video showed.

Days after the video appeared, the District’s Attorney General’s Office dropped the drinking charge. The U.S. Attorney’s Office dropped the assault charge and said it would look into the matter.

In a statement Saturday, DOJ spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa said there was insufficient evidence to pursue charges after investigators interviewed witnesses and reviewed training records, video and medical reports. “Accident, mistake, fear, negligence or bad judgment are not sufficient to establish such a criminal violation,” she said.

Metro had said Harris refused to leave, “refused to comply” to a police citation and resisted arrest, which “resulted in him falling out of his wheelchair.”

Dan Stessel, Metro’s chief spokesman, said the officers were put on administrative duty after the incident but have returned to patrol following the DOJ decision.

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