City Desk

DeOnte Rawlings in Mid-Morning Blog Post

A belated kudos to the Washington Post editorial page, for nailing a thoroughly reported editorial-cum-investigative piece on the DeOnte Rawlings situation. Though we've already cited the piece in our fabulous Loose Lips Daily, a more complete breakdown is in order.

Rawlings, 14, was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer on Sept. 17, 2007. Subsequent investigations by the U.S. attorney's office and the police department have concluded that the officer, and another off-duty police official, broke no laws or departmental rules. They returned to their jobs.

The Post editorial concerns itself with the city's handling of the case, a response characterized by secrecy; details of the investigations have not been released to the public. Here are some of the shocking-but-then-again-not-so-shocking revelations in the Post editorial:

James Haskel, the officer who shot Rawlings, pursued the youth after he found a minibike missing from his garage. Haskel and another officer spotted Rawlings riding it and testify that Rawlings shot at them. So Haskel fired back, hitting Rawlings with a fatal shot to the head. Though the U.S. attorney's office exonerated the officer, the Post points to some holes in the case: "No gun was ever found, the minibike went mysteriously missing and the officers, who at the time did not identify themselves as police, left the scene — issues that have never been adequately addressed."

—Even more troubling: The police department, according to the Post account, was ready to clear the officers before it even investigated the event: "Neither officer had been screened for drugs or alcohol, and a walk-through of the events surrounding the shooting had yet to occur, but the Metropolitan Police's force investigation team said that its preliminary review 'found no issues of concern.'" Unreal.

—The crux of the case is the officers' claim that Rawlings shot at them–a claim that rested in part on an alleged bullet hole in an SUV driven by the police. In the words of the Post, "It turns out that there was no bullet hole but, as recently characterized by Mr. Haskel, an 'indentation.' The boy is alleged to have fired from a distance of about 10 feet and an initial police report said that a .45-caliber gun was used, but that has never been confirmed."

It's time for the city to show its work. Release the report of this case, and let the citizens reach their own conclusions on the officers' conduct. The failure of the Fenty administration to do just that hardly inspires confidence about the city's ability to police itself in other such instances, like the recent police shooting of Logan Circle resident David Kerstetter.

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  • Ernest

    Oh, absolutely. What's concealed must be pronto revealed. They are totally out of control, those fascists. At this rate the police will preetty soon be shooting anyone at sight and be quite able to get away with it. I'm really against it, you know.

  • al gonzales

    Excellent article, thank you. The cases of DeOnte Rawlings & David Kerstetter show that the MPD can shoot & kill anyone at any time & then bury the evidence, cover up all inquiries with the "blue code of silence", & leave the citizens in the dark.
    How does it end? Will Mary Cheh or one of the honest DC council members take any action? Do we need a federal investigation here?

  • Answers, Mr. Mayor?

    MPD officers fired 155 more rounds in '07 than they did in'06. In '06, they fired a total of about 60-70 rounds. This according to MPD's own reporting. How many so far in '08, Mr. Mayor? You promised us an open and transparent government, and I believed you. Why the wall of silence now?

  • Key Piece

    The majority of these questions concercing cover ups need to be forwarded to the proper source. The Washington Police Department is legally protected by Robert Aides and Assocaites. Those crooked bastards know the answers.

  • Stating the Obvious

    Just FOIA the IAB records, numbnuts.

  • ceewop

    While it should be of great concern whether or not the police are shooting us at will;just as important is where was this 14 year old parents? Yes we see them now that the boy is dead but where were they when he was absolutely terrorizing this neighborhood. I too am a reporter, my investigation shows both these officers to not have been on drugs or alcohol the night in question. They both have exemplanary records with 44 years on force total. I also saw the SUV and if the "indentation" had been 6 inches higher we would be speaking of officer Haskel in the past tense. The real tradegy is another young black life was lost to the streets because he didn't recieve what he should have at home.

  • roxie

    ceewop what evidence do you have that the boy terrorized the neighborhood. Are you outside with your kids while they are hanging with their friends. You don't know what he received at home. You speak about an indentation there was no bullet hole in the truck. There was no gun and no minibike. That officer took a kids llife for nothing. He should be jailed. He lost his life to some off-duty police officers, people who are suppose to protect people. This was not gang related so for you to say he lost his life to the streets is really ignorant.

  • Answers, Mr. Mayor?

    And on we go. Reporters ask questions, citizens debate the issues, and no answers come from city officials. The refusal of elected and/or appointed govt authorities to come clean on these matters is very disturbing.

  • mike

    its so easy for you people to say ...ohhh how do you know what they do outside.. wake up we were all kids at one time. iam so sick of these excuses and it does start at home but what can you do when the chile runs the street and the parents are always somewhere partying? these action didnt just start

  • mike

    yes iam black so dont take the YOU PEOPLE out of context