On the night of June 8, Brandon Figures-Mormon got behind the steering wheel of his pickup truck in Adams Morgan, veered around a stopped Metro bus and sped onto a median, striking two uniformed D.C. police officers and a city transportation worker.
D.C. prosecutors and defense attorneys agree on that much, but their accounts clash on what led him there.
Prosecutors contend that Figures-Mormon, 22, of Disputanta, Va., who was arrested three years ago for assaulting a police officer in southern Virginia, drove to Washington with hate for police and a plan to hurt or even kill an officer.
But Figures-Mormon’s defense attorney said her client had no such motivations and instead was intoxicated and lost control of his truck. She said he had purchased two hits of concentrated marijuana known as dab just minutes before the accident, and had a “bad reaction” to the drug.
The two sides presented their arguments during a preliminary hearing in D.C. Superior Court that stretched over two days. One key point in the testimony came when prosecutors argued that Figures-Mormon had posted anti-police statements on social media — a contention the defense denied.
The hearing wrapped up Monday when Judge Zoe Bush ruled there was enough evidence to order Figures-Mormon to remain in the D.C. jail on charges of assault with intent to kill.
During the hearing, longtime D.C. homicide Detective Jed Worrell testified that a witness, who was in the passenger seat of the pickup truck, told detectives that Figures-Mormon tried to pass the stopped bus by turning to the right but struck a pole. Figures-Mormon then turnedto the left and accelerated before driving onto the median and striking the three victims. Worrell said the witness, who was initially arrested as an accomplice in the case before prosecutors dismissed the charges, told authorities he begged Figures-Mormon to stop.
“He said, ‘I’m screaming at the guy. What are you doing? Stop. Stop,’ ” Worrell testified the witness told police.
“That white truck just barreled over the officer,” Worrell said, at times nearly shouting and staring directly at the defendant. “It all happened in one continuous path. Boom. Boom. Boom.”
Worrell said one of the officers was “propelled” into the air. One officer, who remains hospitalized, suffered a punctured lung, a perforated heart and a broken hip and will require a rod to be inserted in his hip. Another officer suffered a broken ankle. A D.C. Department of Transportation worker suffered a concussion and a traumatic brain injury.
The officers are part of the police department’s nightlife detail, which works in areas densely populated with bars, nightclubs and restaurants.
Figures-Mormon’s truck finally stopped when it struck a sanitation vehicle and he was arrested. Police estimated he had been traveling about 56 mph.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Natasha Smalky said Figures-Mormon had plans to attack police. She said one witness, whom she did not identify in court, told authorities that Figures-Mormon had written various anti-police messages on social media, including one message on Snapchat the day before the incident in which he allegedly wrote, referring to police, “Pigs should die.”
When pressed by the defense, Worrell testified he had not seen the messages himself because Figures-Mormon’s phone was still being analyzed.
Public defender Jacqueline Cadman argued no such messages existed and that Figures- Mormon did not hate the police. She said his father was a retired police officer and Figures-Mormon also had volunteered with and was a paid worker for the Fraternal Order of Police.
Cadman said her client was in town to attend a gun show in Chantilly, Va., and was impaired while driving.
“This was not an intentional plot,” Cadman argued. “He did not set out to harm, hurt or kill anyone. He lost control of the vehicle after having a bad reaction” to the marijuana.
At the time of the incident, Figures-Mormon was also on probation after pleading guilty in 2015 for assaulting a police officer during a traffic stop in southern Virginia.