That September afternoon, Worrell used his police-issued security card to swipe into the front door of the station, as well as another door to a secure area. Once inside, upon request, he presented his ID to one officer he did not know. Then, he said, minutes later, a sergeant he did not know also asked for identification.
That request touched off a violent altercation between Worrell and two sergeants that unfolded quickly and ended with Worrell propelling one of the officers into a window and the other pulling out his stun gun and handcuffing Worrell, according to a police report.
Worrell, who is black, said the sergeants, who are white, started the physical confrontation when they grabbed him by his shoulders while his back was turned to them.
The detective, who has been on the force for 27 years, said the Sept. 20 encounter was racially motivated and marked the first time in his career that he has felt as though he was subjected to bias by colleagues.
Worrell, 57, who wears his hair in collar-length salt-and-pepper dreadlocks, has moved to file a complaint with the city’s Office of Human Rights, alleging the sergeants targeted him because of his race and age. The police report says both sergeants are 33.
“I felt a sense of humiliation as though I was expected to kowtow to the sergeants,” Worrell wrote to the city’s equal employment officer in a statement obtained by The Washington Post. “I was profiled simply based on the way I look, different with dreadlocks.”
A police report filed three days after the incident classifies the incident as an assault by Worrell on the two sergeants. Worrell said he reacted to physical contact by the sergeants. He said he grabbed one and pushed him into a soda machine and “flung” the other toward a window. The detective said he was kept in handcuffs for about 45 minutes.
An internal affairs investigation is underway, police said. Worrell said authorities told him that the probe is going beyond the allegations in the police report and is examining the actions of the sergeants.
The sergeants, identified in the police report as Kyle Kimball and Stephen Amodeo, declined requests to speak to The Post about the incident. Amodeo’s response came through an investigator in the internal affairs division who said that further questions should be directed to the department’s public information office.
D.C. police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck declined to provide details of the incident. The department also rejected a freedom of information request for the sergeants’ body-camera footage.
“Preliminarily, our Internal Affairs Division is investigating a dispute between two members,” Sternbeck said in a statement. “It would be premature and irresponsible to suggest that this single incident is indicative of something more.”
Last month, the U.S. attorney's office declined to prosecute Worrell, a spokeswoman for the office said.
Worrell said he is on sick leave because of the injuries to his neck and wrists that he suffered in the incident. The sergeants are on active duty, police said, and Worrell is cleared to return to active duty.
Worrell, nicknamed the Professor by some colleagues, is part of the department’s special victims unit that focuses on investigations into the deaths of infants and children. He is also a licensed polygraph examiner for the department.
His wife, Lisa, is also a D.C. police officer. The two met when they were in the Marines.
The detective, in an interview, said the encounter changed his view of the department.
“I believe that the majority of police officers are good and fit into the scheme of what is needed in law enforcement,” Worrell said. “I don’t think these guys are good officers or fit into the scheme of law enforcement. My trust is gone. I don’t know what to think about them anymore.”
Worrell said he was familiar with the substation at 500 E St. SE because he worked there when he started on the force in the early 1990s. He said officers often stop by nearby precincts if they happen to be in the area. He swiped his identification badge to go through the front doors on E Street on Sept. 20 and, once inside, again swiped the card to enter the report-writing room where he went to use the vending machine.
Once in the room, an officer approached him and asked Worrell, who was wearing his department-issued holster and gun, for his identification. Worrell showed it to him. Then an officer Worrell knows came into the room, and the three began casually chatting.
Worrell said that Kimball and Amodeo entered the room and that one of the sergeants asked for his identification. Worrell said he told the sergeants that he was a detective. He said he pulled out his identification and quickly showed it to the officer who had asked to see it earlier, not the sergeant who had requested it.
Worrell said he was angered by the sergeant’s request and felt that there was no legitimate reason to ask for an ID while he was chatting with other officers. He said he turned to use a phone to call his supervisor, who would verify his employment. According to Worrell, the sergeants came up from behind, one on each side, and grabbed him, and he reacted by pushing them away.
According to the police report, Kimball “retrieved his Electronic Control Device” and conducted an arch, meaning the stun gun was activated in preparation for a potential discharge.
“Then they tell me I’m under arrest. Before they handcuffed me, one of them pulled out a taser and threatened to taser me. I knew at my age, that would have killed me,” Worrell recalled.
The 2½ -line police report, written by Sgt. Gary Ciapa, who is conducting the internal affairs investigation, has little detail about the incident. It states that Worrell was stopped because he was “not displaying proper identification” and that the incident “turned physical when Worrell pushed [Amodeo] into a window causing it to break.” Ciapa declined to discuss the case.
“They initiated the first point of contact, not me,” Worrell said. “They escalated this and made it physical, which is not how we are trained.”
One of the other officers in the room declined to comment; the other did not respond to a request for comment.
Geoffrey P. Alpert, a criminology professor at the University of South Carolina, said the entire incident was handled improperly.
“All of the officers are at fault here. The detective should have just complied with showing the officer his identification. The two sergeants should have asked the two other officers who the detective was. But they should not have grabbed him. And the other two officers in the room who were speaking with the detective also are at fault for failing to intervene,” Alpert said.
“The department needs to figure out what happened so something like this doesn’t happen on the street,” Alpert said.
Worrell said his future with the department is “uncertain.” He said he could retire early but also has considered staying on and specializing in training younger officers. But for now, he said he’s focused on his mental health.
“I still have a love for the job and the work that I’m doing,” Worrell said. “But I’m really having difficulty knowing if I kind of fit in anymore, if I’m considered a dinosaur or a rare bird.”
Peter Hermann, Julie Tate and Eddy Palanzo contributed to this report.