City Desk

D.C. Police Admit Detective Pulled Out Gun During Snowball Fight

The D.C. Police Department's press office sent out a press release this afternoon concerning the yesterday's cop vs. snowball incident. Finally, they admit what everyone else knew yesterday—except the Washington Post—that off-duty D.C. detective did pull out a pistol when facing down the crowd of snowball fighters at 14th and U Streets NW. But, in a curious move, the press officers write an entire narrative of events without mentioning that the detective pulled his gun. It's only at the end of the press release that they mention it:

"The original videotape footage shown yesterday by a local media outlet did not appear to visibly show the off-duty member drawing his weapon during the course of his actions. However, the department has subsequently received additional images and statements that would seem to support the allegation that the off-duty member did pull a gun. The Metropolitan Police Department is intent on conducting a full investigation in determining all of the exact circumstances surrounding this incident."

So what else did they leave out? The detective's name.

Full press release after the jump. Tell us if the cops omitted anything else or got something wrong.

The release titled "Incident Involving Snowball Throwing Crowd In The 1400 Block Of U Street NW," states:

"The Metropolitan Police Department is looking into the circumstances involving the report of officers 'pulling their guns' on a crowd that had been throwing snowballs in the area of 14th and U Streets, NW.

On Saturday, December 19, 2009, an off-duty MPD member was reportedly operating his personal vehicle in the 1400 block of U Street, NW, when the vehicle was suddenly pelted with a barrage of snowballs. The member who was in plainclothes, stopped his vehicle to inspect for any damage that may have occurred. He then reportedly identified himself and went to investigate a crowd that had gathered as being the possible origins of the projectiles. Due to the number of individuals in the crowd and developing traffic conditions, the member called for assistance.

Arriving officers from the Third District responded to the scene for the report of a possible man with a gun incident unfolding at that location. Responding officers cautiously approached the scene as is protocol with a potentially dangerous assignment such as an armed individual, but at this time there is no evidence that they pointed any weapons in the direction of the crowd or at any individuals. Those officers were quickly able to ascertain that the individual in question was indeed a fellow sworn member and were able to deescalate the situation quickly without incident or injury.

The original videotape footage shown yesterday by a local media outlet did not appear to visibly show the off-duty member drawing his weapon during the course of his actions. However, the department has subsequently received additional images and statements that would seem to support the allegation that the off-duty member did pull a gun. The Metropolitan Police Department is intent on conducting a full investigation in determining all of the exact circumstances surrounding this incident.

The Metropolitan Police Department has truly appreciated the cooperation from the community as we all team together to tackle the many challenges encountered during these severe weather conditions."

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  • SarahM I am filing a Citizen Complaint to the DC police about Det Baylor, and I encourage you to do the same:,a,1241,q,548649,mpdcNav_GID,1523,mpdcNav,|.asp
    Why? Because this is not the kind of person I want serving me and my community. He threatened and scared people and acted in a dangerous manner

  • G

    Were you out there during the snowball fight, Sarah?

    I would like to file a Citizen Complaint against you and the rest of the mob and I encourage all others to do the same.

    Why? Because you and your friends are not the kind of people I want in my community. You all threatened and scared people and acted in a dangerous manner.

    Seriously, throwing snowballs across an intersection and hitting passing cars is reckless, irresponsible, and childish. Next time, take your romper room snow-party to a park, but don't even think about calling the cops if things spiral out of control and someone gets their ass kicked.

  • Ben

    Yes G, snowball fights commonly "spiral out of control", leading to bloodshed.

    Parents! Please, talk to your children about snowball fighting...before it's too late!

  • Jason Cherkis

    SarahM if you are considering filing a citizen complaint you can do so with the Office of Police Complaints:

  • Dave

    I left just prior to the incident after taking some photos of the snowball fight. From what I could tell it was a bunch of people just having a great time. I left with a smile on my face thinking about a group of random strangers having a blast together. There were a couple rare cars that went by, but they weren't being intentionally pelted and I think most people thought it was great. I wonder what kind of reaction this guy would have had if the situation was actually dangerous. Would he have gone farther than unholstering his weapon? The man obviously had no self control. Just my 2 cents.

  • Former Staffer

    Improper use of force. But the DCPD is about as accountable as Metro. That Detective will be on the force as long as Catoe is GM.

  • Truth Hurts

    What did MPD leave out? Why they didn't ask the detective yesterday if he drew his gun. WTF!!

  • Kevin

    This is not accurate. I was not 50 feet from the Hummer and the detective when he got out of his vehicle.

    While the planners of the event apparently were a small group of Twitter-using anti-war protesters, this became an everybody-join-in-the-fun neighborhood snowball fight. Plenty of people (like me) were just passing neighbors having a blast. I've seen reports about "enviro-wackos" and "Twittering hipsters." Bizarre. I'm a 46 year-old neighborhood resident of 8 years who was enjoying taking photos of the event. There were whites, blacks, Latinos and Asians joining in. It was just good fun. It did not have to end like it did.

    FROM THE POLICE STATEMENT: "The member who was in plainclothes, stopped his vehicle to inspect for any damage that may have occurred."

    WRONG. The vehicle was stopped at the light when the barrage of mushy snowballs hit his car. He never "inspected" his vehicle. He got out and immediately walked around to the right side of the Hummer where the snowball came from and drew his gun within 10 seconds.

    FROM THE POLICE STATEMENT: "He then reportedly identified himself and went to investigate a crowd that had gathered as being the possible origins of the projectiles. Due to the number of individuals in the crowd and developing traffic conditions, the member called for assistance."

    WRONG. He never identified himself and never showed a badge. He took the gun from the holster on his right hip and then moved it to his left hand. He then pulled out a walkie talkie with his right hand on which he called for backup (I assume). The officer was hit by snowballs twice during this time (an incredibly stupid thing by whoever did it). There were no "developing traffic conditions" other than a couple cars stopped behind him when he got out of his car in the middle of the street.

    The officer never pointed the weapon at anyone but he did hold it up.

    All of the cars that were struck before this were either stopped at the light or going no more than 5 mph. The snow was so mushy you could barely make it stick together. These were not hard iceballs. The actual risk to drivers or passengers was VERY small.

    While snowball-throwing on the street is not something to encourage, numerous police had driven by without intervening. Some had even stopped and observed for a while before leaving. I even witnessed one officer drive past while holding up an iPhone taking photos or video of the scene. He was grinning.

    This would be a non-event if the detective in the Hummer had either driven away like the other police did, or (if he felt the need to enforce the letter of the law) gotten out and approached the crowd holding up a badge rather than a gun.

    Bottom line: In my opinion the detective was WAY OVERBOARD by responding with a drawn weapon. It is frightening to think that a man with his judgment carries a badge in our city. Think about all the tense situations he must be involved with where there are not cameras rolling.

    In my opinion Detective Baylor should be disciplined.


    P.S. - I didn't get video of the incident with the officer because my battery had run down on my phone, but I did get this 30 seconds of the harmless snowball fight:

  • bruce

    @G : you are an idiot and we should hit you in the face with ice balls for even supporting this. Do you have a curly tail, like a pig? F the police. What if we pulled a gun? You think he would have asked if we were a cop? But he can just wield it without answering to the people? F him and take away his job.

  • Jim 2009

    Just a friendly reminder, someone was sentenced to prison time for hurling ice at a fotball game in the late 1990's. Secondly an officer must look at the totality of the circumstances when assessing a potentially hazardous situation. This officer was clearly outnumbered by a hostile crowd who was in fact causing property damage.

  • joan

    Can you explain to me please how a DC police officer can afford a Hummer?

  • Paula Product

    If you've been around long enough to make detective, you can afford a Hummer, if that's what you want to spend your money on. (It might surprise you how cheaply Hummer's could be leased, even before gas prices made their late-decade jump.) The gas to keep the thing running is another matter. A better question would be what the hell he was doing out driving it around if he wasn't on duty or on his way to or from duty (and the reports so far indicate he wasn't).

    Sadly, Detective Baylor's behavior reinforces the stereotypes of both Hummer drivers and bad cops: thin-skinned people who desperately seek out the trappings of power (a badge, a gun, an oversized SUV complete with "FOP" license plate - all the better to remind others you're the Man, and get out of traffic tickets to boot) to compensate for cowardice, low self-esteem, or other deficiency.

    Jim - Thanks for the "friendly reminder," but I'm not sure how it's even relevant that someone, sometime in the past, was prosecuted for endangering others with ice. People do indeed get hurt in snowball fights which, like so many other fun winter activities (sledding, skiing) can be dangerous. But that doesn't mean it's appropriate to confront the people engaged in those activities with a firearm. More to the point, no one was being hurt (and if current reports are to be believed, little or no property damaged) in Saturday's mass snowball fight. Police should indeed assess the totality of the situation, as you say. Here, the videos and MPD's own statements indicate that Detective Baylor failed to do so. Note how, by contrast, the many videos of this incident show the other MPD officers on the scene handling this difficult situation very well. They don't seem to have felt the need to brandish their weapons or get out the riot gear. Unlike Detective Baylor, they don't lose their cool. Indeed, they don't seem to lose their composure despite the repeated taunts of "pig" etc. from those in the crowd (mostly at Baylor, but at the other officers too). And none appear to follow the lead of Det. Baylor in grabbing and shoving people in the crowd, even though Baylor probably outranks every officer at the scene.

  • Five to Go

    Now I get it! These so-called "kids" now understand how minorities feel when the police pull guns on them, for no reason. They do not like it. Howerever, in this case a projectile was thrown-a snowball, and the police detective did'nt like it. I am so thankful that the uniformed cops did not shoot the detective. If this was New York city, I'm sure that the detective could have been shot. Grown-ass adults should behave in an adult manner, not like children. Especially adults that claim they are Washingtonians. A real Washingtonian would have known better than to throw snowballs at complete strangers cars, because the real Washingtonians would know that if the driver gets out of his/her car or truck, a "BIG CAN OF Whip-Ass" was coming.

  • Consider This

    It is particularly disconcerting that the official police report of the incident describes Detective Baylor's motive for alighting from his vehicle "to inspect for any damage that may have occurred."

    PUH-LEASE!! THAT'S insulting and patently bogus. He was, in obvious fact, getting out of his car to confront the person(s) who had the audacity to toss a snowball at his Hummer. It is quite disturbing that such obvious 'spin' (fiction) is allowed in an OFFICIAL statement/report. One would hope for more HONESTY from the police – indeed, it makes one wonder about the veracity of ANY police report, particularly those written without the benefit of such compelling video evidence…

    If pulling a GLOCK is this OFF-DUTY cop's first thought/reaction - sorry, the dude should be behind a desk – unarmed. This guy’s a prime example of the theory that "Anyone who WANTS to be a cop, SHOULD NOT be allowed to BE a cop."

  • John Q. Citizen

    Thanks to Mr. G's comments above , I want to file Citizens complaint against the Snowballers. too.

    The snowballers were in the Wrong, they were in the street blocking traffic , throwing objects at each other. It looked like a riot. Who is to say everyone was throwing snow?, If you drove up to a scene like that at 14th & U street and your vehicle got hit and you felt violated .

    What did you expect a Police Officer to do Ignore it?

    This is no public park, it is a busy Metropolitan intersection. In these days of Homeland Security concerns and terrorist activity ; do you expect the actions of 200 people in the street trowing things to go unchallenged in the Nations Capital?

    ((If you do your on drugs..on in a dope haze or something.wait for the next IMF or Bankers meeting.))

    Personally I am glad the cop Stopped got out, radioed for backup and went to go find the 'dummy' who threw a snowball at him even when he was armed standing there and got pelted with a snowball. The Police officer showed obvious restraint.
    The crowd didn't show any restraint;they were taunting, shouting F bombs and the crowd should have been arrested ; but police officers are in short supply during a snow emergency.
    Where do you snowballers get off and take any responsibility for your actions? You don't you act like spoiled brats. These city streets are not here for your snowball fights. Grow Up and find a park to play in children..

  • Frank

    give me a break.... He lost his cool...
    Snowball fights have been around as long as snow.
    Cops think they are GOD! I was a detective for
    10 years in Maryland and let me tell you. He was
    wrong taking the action he did. Just like so many
    Govt. departments... They are not what they used to
    be.... very sad.... Tax dollars down the drain!!!

  • James

    Ignorant cop pulls out a gun at pedestrians for throwing snowballs. Talk about abuse of power and reckless endangerment he should lose his badge...but its Washington DC so they will probably make him a sergeant... I wonder if this officer waits a public parks and playgrounds and school yards on snowy waiting for a child to throw a snow ball and then rush over and point a gun at them. This officer went way overboard acted totally inappropriately and should be disciplined and made to give a public apology that should be made to include the line "You should never bring a gun to a snow ball fight.".

  • Brad

    Actually the cop who pulled the gun didn't radio for backup....perhaps he did but was probably laughed at when he said Ive been hit...with a snow ball... lobed from 10 feet away that hit me with all the force of sneeze. No need to brandish a gun to make you feel like a big man especially when you haven't identified your self as a police officer in which every video shows he did not at first. 1) This is Washington DC and pulling a gun out for little to no reason is a good way to catch a bullet yourself and 2) if other officers didn't arrive on scene who knows what this nut job would have done, the video clearly shows him becoming more agitated violent and enraged and he dealt with the crowd before other cops showed up....he needs to be disciplined maybe taken off duty until summer time when he can flash a gun at a group of children squirting eachother with thier lawn hoses....

  • Youre dumb

    Wow. John Q. and G. You are very unintelligent. Is it really nessary to display force to stop a snowball fight? And as for blocking the intersection, who is really out in that weather anyways? It was just a friendly game. What if I can to your house and just waved my 9mm Glock around? What if the officers gun accidentally discharged? Think logically, this was an abuse of power. And I how you realize how stupid you are.

  • taxpayer26

    As a taxpaying voting resident of the District of Columbia I expected my Top Cop to explain that the actions of the mob were in fact illegal and would not be tolerated under any circumstances. Then explain that the entire incident would be thoroughly investigated, to include why the Third District officers tucked tail and left the scene when members of the mob refused to obey their lawful order to stop their illegal activity. Why the officials seen on the video did not take control of the situation upon their arrival. That the video would be used to identify and prosecute those observed throwing snowballs (missiles) and assaulting the detective. I expected her to also explain that the officer seen on the video telling the mob to continue with their illegal activity (which caused the confrontation with the detective) to continue was wrong. Law enforcement officials cannot concern themselves with making people mad when it comes to legally enforcing the law.

    Chief Lanier needs to understand that leadership can’t be a popularity contest. Her reckless statement confirmed that she is ineffective and unable to confront the people who truly need to be confronted. Her actions single handedly damaged the credibility and reputation of the Metropolitan Police Department. The fact that she disgraced and humiliated her detective for doing what the members of the Third District should have done, instead of being a true leader and being honest with the mob, regardless of how bad it may have hurt their feelings, erased any respect/credibility that I, as a taxpaying resident, reasonably could have had for her. She literally did not hesitate to throw the detective to the wolves to appease the public. The true act of a coward not a leader.

    Are Chief Lanier and Assistant Chief Newsham to dense to realize that had anyone been injured or property been damaged, whether they voluntarily participated in the illegal activity or not, the district would have been held liable once it was revealed that the police department was aware that the illegal activity was occurring and allowed it to continue. As a voting taxpayer, I’m tired of paying for expensive champagne and getting moonshine when it comes to the management of the Metropolitan Police Department.

  • Nepenthe

    If I was driving and was targeted with snowballs,it would make me angry because they are risking the driver's life and those around him. Not only is it a distraction to safely driving but can obscure the windshield. It's obviously inappropriate and dangerous.

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  • Dr. Diabetes Diet

    Very good entry. Anticipating the next one.