The Washington Post

Police report details agent’s gunfire at wrong man after robbery report

Jamal Eugene Thomas didn’t steal the orange motor scooter. But police said he was riding one the same color and model when they saw him pull into a gas station on Minnesota Avenue shortly after an armed robbery a few blocks away in Northeast Washington.

Members of a D.C. police gun recovery unit — in an unmarked silver Dodge Ram pickup and accompanied by a federal agent — sped into the station about 10 p.m. Aug. 14. Authorities said Thomas, 20, sped off “at a high rate of speed,” according to a written police account obtained by The Washington Post.

Police chased Thomas and found him hiding under a house’s porch, according to the report. The federal agent saw the man’s arm extended and a black object in his right hand. The agent shot at him, missed and forced his surrender, according to the report.

Then police realized that they had the wrong man. The robbery victim initially identified the orange scooter as his, but he then saw that the speedometer was different. Then the victim told police that Thomas was not the man who had robbed him.

D.C. police said they would charge Thomas anyway — with assault on a police officer and driving without a license. But the U.S. attorney’s office declined to pursue the case, freeing Thomas from custody. Thomas, who lives in Northeast Washington, could not be reached to comment, and his attorney in an unrelated case did not respond to an interview request.

The written police account gives far more detail of the encounter than authorities previously made public.

D.C. police declined to comment, and Jeff Boshek, a spokesman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said only that the incident remains under review by the agency’s shooting-review team. The agent who fired his gun, assigned to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force, did not return calls to his office.

The document describing the shooting says the officers were dressed in street clothes but were wearing ballistic vests, marked “Police,” over their shirts. The document states that when the pickup pulled into the station, Thomas drove through an alley before he lost control and crashed. He then ran across a church parking lot while ignoring repeated demands to stop.

Police said in the document that Thomas ripped the wooden lattice from a porch on Anacostia Road and crawled underneath. The ATF agent yelled, “Come out! Show me your hands!” according to the police document. “Thomas continued to refuse.” The document said Thomas was on his back and “extended his arm holding a black object in his right hand.” The agent fired once, missing Thomas, the document says.

Police said Thomas then surrendered and was arrested. The charge of assault on a police officer is broadly written and involves assaulting, resisting, intimidating or interfering with a law enforcement officer.


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Making family dinnertime happen
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
New limbs for Pakistani soldiers
Play Videos
A veteran finds healing on a dog sled
Learn to make this twice-baked cookie
How to prevent 'e-barrassment'
Play Videos
Syrian refugee: 'I’m committed to the power of music'
The art of tortilla-making
Michael Bolton's cinematic serenade to Detroit
Play Videos
Circus nuns: These sisters are no act
5 ways to raise girls to be leaders
Cool off with sno-balls, a New Orleans treat

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.