Crime: Escapee Caught; Council Endorses Acting MPD Chief Smith; Police Burnout
By October 30, 2023 0 600•
As crime in the nation’s capital continues to be a focus of nation-wide political attention, D.C Mayor Muriel Bowser and the D.C. Council have shifted to a tougher stance on law enforcement while armed carjackings in the District soar, new reports of MPD police burnout surface, and a murder suspect escapee in Northwest D.C. is finally apprehended.
Signifying a degree of unity between the mayor’s office and the city’s elected officials – several of whom had voted in the wake of the George Floyd protests of 2020 to restrict policing measures – the D.C. Council’s Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary unanimously approved the nomination of Acting Police Chief Pamela A. Smith on Oct. 25 to become the permanent MPD Police Chief, with the nomination heading for a final vote before the full council Nov. 7.
Acting Chief Smith has fully endorsed Mayor Bowser’s recent tougher-on-crime legislation dubbed the ACT Now Act of 2023 (Addressing Crime Trends Now Act). Without significant public objections to the legislation from members of the D.C. Council, the legislation is designed to allow police to declare emergency “drug-free zones” to clear out open-air “drug markets;” to criminalize the wearing of a mask for the purpose of committing a crime, to amend earlier laws against police neck restraints, allowing officers “incidental contact;” to give officers more leeway to engage in vehicular pursuit; and to establish felony penalties for “organized retail theft.”
Ward 2 Council member Brooke Pinto, chair of the D.C. Council’s Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary referred to the committee’s vote endorsing Smith as a “turning point” that “comes at a critical time for the Department and the District,” according to WTOP.
“As we face a significant increase in both violent crime and property crime and MPD simultaneously suffers a hiring and retention crisis. Our communities are crying out for help, for more police, more security, more opportunities and more accountability.” Pinto said “the new chief must be ready to confront the issue of violent crime head-on, while remembering to comfort the family and friends of these victims.” And, she noted the District surpassed 200 homicides in 2023 just last month.
Murder Suspect Escapee, Christopher Patrick Haynes, Apprehended
Following a 7-week search with a $25,000 reward for information leading to his arrest, murder suspect escapee Christopher Patrick Haynes, 30, of Gainesville, Virginia, was captured Oct. 26 on Iverson Street in Oxon Hill area of Prince George’s County, Maryland.
Haynes had escaped MPD custody at George Washington Hospital last month, resulting in an extended lockdown on campuses and businesses in the Foggy Bottom and Georgetown areas for several days. The police officer accompanying Haynes had failed to follow MPD guidelines requiring Haynes to be handcuffed and secured to his medical gurney, according to Acting Chief Smith. Consequently, Haynes was able to escape on foot, with handcuffs dangling from a wrist and wearing one red shoe, according to police bulletins following his escape. Ironically, Haynes had been allowed to see doctors at the hospital to treat an ankle injury.
Many were puzzled why it took so long to apprehend Haynes, given his large, easily identifiable tattoo of the Washington Nats logo on the front of his neck.
U.S. Deputy Marshal Robert Dixon said in a news conference that Haynes was found at approximately 10:30 a.m., taken into custody “without incident,” and no one was injured in the apprehension, according to the Washington Post.
Prior to his escape, Haynes was listed as “wanted” in connection with the Aug. 12 shooting of Brent Hayward, 33, outside a convenience store on Kenilworth Avenue in Northeast.
According to the Post, “Police and marshals declined to say where Haynes had been, how he had survived the last seven weeks on the run, or whether anyone will be charged with harboring him. D.C. police said in a news release their helicopter was involved in locating Haynes.” And, according to officials, “He will face a federal charge of escape, in addition to the pending murder charge.”
MPD’s Loss of Police Officers Due as Much to Overwork as Laws Hampering Operations
An enlightening analysis from DCist Oct. 26, reveals that many MPD officers have left the police force in the nation’s capital in recent years not just because the D.C. Council passed laws in 2020 restricting their crime-fighting practices but owing to sheer burnout on the job, and a resentment at having to work so many overtime hours given all the high-profile protests and “first amendment” activities in the city.
MPD has “seen a net loss of about 500 officers since fiscal year 2020 and has lost more officers than it could recruit each year since 2018,” the analysis of “why cops leave” said. In testimony before Congress in March, D.C. police union chair Greggory Pemberton said recent police reform bills passed by the D.C. Council, as well as “anti-police” attitudes among local lawmakers, were directly responsible for the department’s attrition problem.”
But, the problem of police retention is deeper than that, according to DCist who interviewed “more than a dozen current and former officers” for the analysis. Departing from the “prevailing public narrative about attrition at MPD in recent years,” DCist found that many officers “ultimately left because they said they were profoundly overworked and felt disrespected by MPD managers.”
Surges in MPD’s mandatory overtime requirements – sometimes calling for pop-up 12-hour overtime shifts – combined with a large volume of high-profile protests against police violence, as well as “far-right gatherings that culminated in the Jan. 6 insurrection, and the infamous trucker convoy” created intolerable conditions for many officers who ultimately decided to leave the department. Many of those interviewed also cited MPD mismanagement and lack of sensitivity as causal factors of their departure.
MPD Weekly Firearm Recoveries Report for Oct. 16 – Oct. 23
On Oct. 16, MPD released their “Weekly Firearm Recoveries” report for Oct. 16. To Oct. 23, announcing they had taken 77 firearms of the streets. Of the 47 named arrestees listed in the report, 9 are 21-years-old or younger. A report concerning one youthful suspect reads: “A Glock 19 9mm caliber handgun was recovered in the 900 block of U Street, Northwest. The following person was arrested: 16-year-old male juvenile, of Southeast, D.C., for Carrying a Pistol without a License, Possession of an Unregistered Firearm, Possession of Unregistered Ammunition, and Possession of a Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device.”
According to the Washington Post, “An off-duty federal security officer on his way to work” Saturday night Oct. 28 “fatally shot a 13-year old boy who the officer said was one of two youths who tried to carjack him in the District’s Penn Quarter neighborhood,” according to MPD. Waiting for his shift to begin, the officer was sitting in his personal vehicle in the 600 block of D St. NW, near the D.C. Superior Court building, when “two youths approached him shortly after 10 p.m. and demanded his vehicle.” According to the officer, one of the youths “had his hand in his front waistband pocket as if he had a handgun” as he demanded the officer get out of his vehicle.
As the off-duty officer “got out of his vehicle,” police said he told investigators “he produced a handgun and shot one of the suspects,” the Post reported. One youth was struck once in the chest. And, the other ran away. Police identified the slain youth as 13-year old Vernard Toney, Jr. of Southeast.
The shooter, identified as a “federal security officer” and is reported to be cooperating with officials and has not been arrested though investigations of the incident are ongoing. The shooting “comes amid heightened concern over carjackings, which [have] soared 108 percent in the District this year, compared with the same period in 2022,” according to the Post. As of Oct. 27, “police said there have been 821 carjackings in the city since January” and “carjackings involving juveniles are also up this year.”
On Oct. 28, detectives from MPD’s Carjacking Task Force announced the arrest of a woman for an armed carjacking “during the morning commute.” On Sept. 18, at approximately 7:10 a.m., the “victim was driving in the 5500 block of Connecticut Ave. NW, “when the suspect’s vehicle rear-ended him.” After the victim stopped to exchange information, “multiple suspects got out of the suspect vehicle and approached” the victim. “One suspect [then] pointed a firearm at the victim, demanded his vehicle, and took the victim’s property from his pocket. The suspects and the suspect vehicle then fled the scene.” On Oct. 25, 32-year-old Rajaee Dinkins Mitchell, of Northwest D.C. was arrested and charged with carjacking.
On Oct. 27, detectives from MPD’s Third District requested public assistance in identifying a suspect sought for “robbing an establishment” in D.C. At “approximately 18:14 p.m.” Oct. 26, the suspect “entered an establishment in the 1400 block of 9th St. NW, brandished a firearm, and demanded money,” MPD said. “The employee managed to flee the store and lock the suspect inside. When officers arrived on scene, the suspect was no longer inside the store.” However, the suspect was “captured by a surveillance camera and can be seen in the photo below:”
On Oct. 27, MPD announced arrests on Oct. 21 in recent “Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle offenses” in Northwest D.C.:
- 29-year-old Arturo Gray, of Southeast, D.C., was arrested for an offense that occurred in the 7400 block of Georgia Avenue, NW.
- 33-year-old David Earle, of no fixed address, was arrested for an offense that occurred at F Street and 6th Street, NW.
On Oct. 27, MPD announced a “man has been arrested in reference to a robbery in Northwest D.C. On Thursday, Oct. 26, at “approximately 1:56 p.m.,” the victim was “walking in the 5700 block of 9th Street, NW, when the suspect approached her and snatched the victim’s property. The suspect fled on foot. A short time later, the credit card taken in the robbery was used at a nearby store. Officers located the suspect in possession of the victim’s stolen property, and 18-year-old Waymond Eskridge, of Northwest, D.C., was arrested and charged.”
On Oct. 25, detectives from MPD’s Major Crash Investigations Unit announced an investigation into a traffic fatality that killed a man in Northwest D.C. According to MPD, the “preliminary investigation revealed” that on October 17, at “approximately 12:44 a.m., a man was riding a bicycle eastbound in the 1700 block of L Street, NW in the bicycle lane. As the bicyclist crossed Connecticut Avenue, NW he was struck by a silver 2014 Toyota Camry that was traveling northbound on Connecticut Avenue, NW. The bicyclist was ejected from his bike. The victim was transported to a local hospital where he died from his injuries” on Oct. 21. “He has been identified as 24-year-old Nijad Huseynov, of NW D.C. The driver of the Toyota Camry stayed on the scene.”
On Oct. 25, detectives from MPD’s Homicide Branch announced an investigation into the death of a man in NW D.C. On Oct. 17, at “approximately 12:54 a.m., Fourth District officers responded to the 6200 block of Georgia Avenue, NW for the report of a man down,” MPD said in a press release. “Upon arrival, officers located a man with trauma. He died at the scene. The victim has been identified as 64-year-old Reggie Brown, of NW D.C. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy and ruled the cause of death to be blunt force trauma and the manner of death a homicide.”
On Oct. 24, detectives from MPD’s Homicide Branch requested public assistance in “identifying and locating a person of interest in the death of a woman in NW D.C.” On Oct. 14, “at approximately 4:20 a.m.,” MPD said in a press release, “Third District officers were flagged down in front of the 900 block of U Street for a person down in the roadway. Officers were advised the victim was assaulted and then struck by a vehicle. The victim was transported to a local hospital where she later died. The victim was identified as 30-year-old Anee Roberson, of NW D.C. Detectives are working to identify the suspects who assaulted Roberson resulting in her death. A person of interest was captured surveillance cameras and can be seen in the photos below and in this video:” https://youtu.be/f4NbKK3EOPM
On Oct. 24, MPD 2nd Watch Commander issues a social media alert concerning a suspected auto theft: “The Second District is currently investigating a robbery in the 3500 block of P St. NW on Oct. 17, at approximately 17:15 hours. Taken was a white Toyota Corolla with a Maryland Tag 6FP4798. The suspect was described as a black male 6’0,” 220 pounds, wearing a red hoodie and brown pants. Anyone with information is asked to call (202)727-9099 or text tip 50411.”
On Oct. 23, detectives from MPD’s Third District requested public assistance in “identifying robbery suspects.” On Oct. 10, at “approximately 4:30 a.m.,” MPD said in a press release, “the suspects entered a business in the 1600 block of V Street, NW, pointed a knife at employees and took money from the cash register. The suspects then fled the scene. The suspects were captured by a surveillance camera and can be seen in the below photographs:”
On Oct. 24, detectives from MPD’s Homicide Branch announced an arrest of a woman for a “homocide” July 30 in the 100 block of Farragut St. NW. According to an MPD press release, “At approximately 2:43 p.m., Fourth District officers responded to the listed location for the report of a shooting. Upon arrival, officers located a man suffering from a gunshot wound. DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services responded to the scene and transported the victim to an area hospital where despite all lifesaving efforts, the victim succumbed to his injuries. The victim was identified as 46-year-old Donald B. Childs, of NW D.C.” On Oct. 24, “pursuant to a DC Superior Court warrant, members of the Capitol Area Regional Fugitive Task Force arrested 29-year-old Iesha Marks, of Bowie, Maryland. She was charged with First Degree Murder While Armed (Premeditated) for her role in Mr. Childs’ death.”
On Oct. 23, MPD announced a “juvenile male” was arrested in reference to a “shooting that occurred in Northwest.” On June 2, at “approximately 10:58 p.m.,” First District officers responded to the 1200 block of North Capitol Street, NW for the report of a shooting,” MPD said in a press release. “Officers arrived on the scene and located a juvenile male victim suffering from a gunshot wound. The victim was transported to a local hospital for treatment. The detectives’ investigation determined a large fight occurred which involved the suspect and the victim. The victim fled from the fight and the suspect chased after the victim. Video footage captured the suspect pointing and shooting a firearm at the victim. The victim was struck by the gunfire.” On Oct. 23, “pursuant to a DC Superior Court custody order, members of the Carjacking Task Force located and arrested a 15-year-old juvenile male of Northeast, DC. He has been charged with Assault with Intent to Kill (Gun).”
On Oct. 22, detectives from MPD’s Homicide Branch announced an investigation into a “shooting that killed a man in NW D.C.” According to an MPD press release, on Oct. 21, at “approximately 3:38 a.m., Third District officers responded to the 900 block of U Street, NW, for the report of a shooting. Upon arrival, officers located a man with a gunshot wound. He died at the scene. The victim has been identified as 24-year-old Diamonte Lewis of Southeast, D.C.