Woman Charged With Assaulting Police Officer During Snowball Fight
It turns out that there was another cop vs. snowball fight incident today. We reprinted an e-mailed account of the snowball incident which took place outside Wonderland shortly after the bar closed. Police officials confirm that a woman was arrested as a result of the incident. She has been charged with assaulting a police officer, a felony. What was her weapon? An ice-packed snowball.
Unlike the infamous gun incident, the officer involved was on-duty and did not respond by brandishing his weapon. Instead, he arrested the woman during a fairly tense scene, according to Third District Commander Jacob Kishter.
Kishter says the woman had hurled a snowball into the officer's police cruiser, striking him in the face. Police had arrived on the scene at 11th Street NW after receiving a call for "a large disorderly snowball fight."
Kishter says the officers approached the snowball fight with caution. "When the officers got on the scene, instead of pulling right into the block, they were in sight—not in snowball reach," Kishter says. "The officers put their overhead lights on to get their attention to move on. The way it was explained to me, there were people on each side of 11th Street and they were having a snowball fight across 11th."
The officers' presence and the flashing blue and red cruiser lights did not put a halt to the snowball fight. "Nobody was moving on," Kishter says. So the officers drive into the block.
People start throwing snowballs at the patrol cars.
One officer rolls down his window to get a better look at what's going on. He watches a woman hurl a snow ball at his window. The snowball strikes him in the face. "It was snow packed with ice," Kishter says. "It was like a missile.... Almost like a rock."
At that point, the officer called for backup. Eventually, at least four officer show up to address the snowball fight. But when the uniform officers approach the crowd, the snowball fight continues with one important difference. The snowball fighters had fresh targets. "[The officers] start getting snowballs thrown at them," Kishter says. "Nobody pulled their guns."
Kishter explains that after the infamous incident in December, he went to roll calls and instructed his officers on other, non-lethal ways of combating a snowball fight.
The officer was able to pull the woman who hit him out of the crowd. The arrest effectively ended the snowball fight [see video]. The crowd broke up. The woman was charged with APO. Kishter thinks that she is 21 years old. This is her first arrest.
The officer is doing fine. The snowball may have left a bruise on his face. But other than that, Kishter says, he basically "shook it off."
UPDATE, 4:18 P.M.:
Maria Louis Maria Lewis is the woman who was charged with the felony APO. According to her roommate, Lauren Barthel, she is still being held at D.C. Superior Court's central booking. She won't be released until the court re-opens and she's arraigned. There's still the potential that a judge could hold her at the D.C. Jail.
Barthel's account provided to City Desk differs significantly from Commander Kishter's narrative of events. She says that she and
Louis Lewis had spent the night dancing at Wonderland where they bonded with their neighbors who all lived near the bar. After the bar closed, she says, about 35 people engaged in a "friendly" snowball fight across 11th Street in front of Wonderland.
After about 15 minutes, nine police cars pulled up. Some parked on 11th in the middle of the snowball fight. "They just parked and got out of their vehicles," Barthel says. "They never gave us an order to disperse. Had they given us an opportunity to disperse, this would not have happened."
Barthel says that she and
Louis Lewis decided they didn't need such order, and started to head home. "We were starting to walk home when the police came up and stopped us," she says. The two had gotten a half block away; they live only three blocks from Wonderland.
An officer then arrested
Louis Lewis. Barthel says she repeatedly asked the cops about why her roommate was being charged. She followed her roommate was placed in a patrol car. She continued to question the police the whole time. An officer turned around and ordered her back onto the sidewalk. If she failed to comply, he threatened to have her arrested as well. She complied.
Barthel says that there were no ice missiles being thrown. Nor did she see any direct hits on any officers or their patrol cars. "I did not see anyone aiming at the police," she adds.
Louis Lewis, Barthel adds, was just dumbfounded by her arrest.
"Until the police showed up, it was a fun way to meet people in the area," Barthel says. "Their response was completely unnecessary force."
UPDATE, 5 P.M., 2/11: The woman's name is Maria Lewis, not Louis.
File photo by Darrow Montgomery