A Takoma Park police officer was indicted on charges of first- and second-degree assault and use of a handgun after a road-rage incident in July 2014, officials from the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Office said.
Officer Travis Ala was driving on Route 50 westbound July 6 when he encountered a car in the left lane, officials said. Ala was angered that the car was moving slowly and pulled in front of it before slamming on his brakes, officials said Tuesday.
The other vehicle tried to pass Ala by moving into the center lane, but Ala, 28, followed the car from behind, officials said. A witness inside the car told authorities that Ala pulled to the car’s side and pointed his black handgun at the three people inside. Officials said they attempted to take photos of Ala while pulling over to the shoulder to try to avoid him and call 911.
“We take the charges very seriously,” said John Erzen II, communications director for the state’s attorney. “We’re concerned about Officer Ala’s conduct on Route 50 that morning.”
The off-duty officer pulled behind the stopped vehicle on the shoulder of the road near the exit for Route 301 in Bowie, officials said. He then drove his vehicle through the grass to take the south exit, authorities said, when he realized the people in the other vehicle were trying to take photos of him.
The victims, who were not identified, wrote down Ala’s license plate number, which helped police to track the officer down. Ala has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the case, police said in a statement.
“Police officers are charged and sworn to protect our citizens, and in this incident it appears that Mr. Ala was endangering the lives of these three citizens in the other vehicle and possibly any of those who could have been around the incident that morning,” Erzen said.
Ala is also the subject of an investigation by the Maryland State Police. State police said Ala was involved in a crash on Route 50 in the Annapolis area that left a father, his daughter and her boyfriend dead in March.