City Desk

MPD Cop Would Have Handled Wheelchair Arrest Differently

DCist pointed to a disturbing video this weekend: A man in a wheelchair was tackled out of it by Metro Transit cops and arrested. The incident, which happened in broad daylight outside the U Street/Cardozo station on the Green and Yellow lines, attracted jeers and protests from bystanders and left the man bleeding. Metro responded to the video this morning:

On Thursday, May 19, the Metro Transit Police on routine patrol at the U St. Metrorail station observed a patron in a wheelchair drinking an alcoholic beverage. The officers asked the patron to leave the area and he refused. The officers then attempted to issue the patron a citation and when the patron refused to comply with the issuance of a citation he was told that he would be placed under arrest. The patron resisted arrest which resulted in him falling out of his wheelchair. The patron was arrested for assault on a police officer and drinking in public.

But in the video, the man isn't "falling out of his wheelchair." While it's obvious that he's struggling against the two officers, who both outweigh him, it's also obvious he was slammed to the ground as a result.

Reviewing the video, one Metropolitan Police Department officer who's made scores of arrest says he would have handled things differently. “I don't believe I would have gone that far. I don't believe I would've removed him from the wheelchair," says the cop.

The officer asks to remain anonymous because he doesn't have permission to speak about the incident. He points out that one way the cops could have avoided the controversial take down was by thinking things through. The suspect in the video looks as if he's in a motorized wheelchair, and "you can simply unplug those things from the battery," he says. Though that wouldn't have helped the suspect get into handcuffs, it would have taken the situation down a notch.

Another observation he makes is that the arrested man was left on the ground for too long. In the video, the officers don't seem to be making an effort to pick him up. That's something MPD avoids because of "positional asphyxiation," he says. A suspect can end up suffocating if they're left on the ground in the wrong position: "Our issue is that they need to get off the ground as soon as it's safe." The cop says that usually takes seconds. That a suspect was bleeding wouldn't make a difference.

But he also says it's hard to know all the particulars from a video. He wouldn't necessarily describe the transit cops' actions as heavy-handed. He says Metro's police force is trained differently and has different use-of-force guidelines: "Maybe they're learning it a different way."

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  • Steve

    So you got your friend the cop to go along with your spin on the story. Great journalism.

  • DC Businesses

    Drinking a beer in a wheel chair is not the kind of crime that transit police should be focusing on near metro stops

  • Jason

    He assaulted the cops from his wheel chair!? Hilarious! Now I see why black men hate me. I don't blame them. You can see the officer use his leg to take the man down to the ground... White men (including me) need to get over our insecurities....


  • Jack

    This is about a couple of junior-grade "police" officers physically punishing the guy because he was disrespectful. There was absolutely no need for the use of such force. Hooray for video cameras on the street, without which no one would ever have known about this police violence. "Falling out of his wheelchair" in the police report would have been the end of it, and no one would have been the wiser.

  • seDCdude

    what kinda bull ass sh*t is this?!

    Absolutely NO professionalism!!

    These 2 trailer park expenditures should be FIRED immediately!

    1st of all their JUDGEMENT stinks to BLUE PLAINS on a 100 degree day!
    2ndly they would not have done no shit like this had the PERP been white, FACT
    3RDLY, if you're that hard up for action, get detailed to any of the more URBAN stations and see where your overzealousness gets your pastey ass!

    These trolls are coming to this city with no respect, regard or care for the community, period!

    Speaks to Adrian Fenty's backwards ass mentality and governance!

    Send they asses packing.........

  • Truth Hurts

    @seDCdude: WTF does Adrian Fenty have to do with two METRO cops assaulting a wheelchair-bound man 5 months into One City Gray's administration?

    Most everything else you say about this incident is correct. Cops were wrong. Should be fired and prosecuted. But you need some serious meds if your brain links this up with Fenty.

    Sure you're not really ABM?

  • Anon

    There is a WMATA security camera attached to the canopy over the escalator that, if operational, would have captured the entire incident. Has that tape been made public?

    I agree that this is not what WMATA security needs to be focused upon. Their involvement in what is a normal street occurrence on U Street sidewalks and how they handled this event, show that they are not trained properly in defusing a situation.

  • Lee

    If you don't know all the facts, then you should shut your mouth! You do all your fellow officers a disservice by prejudging and commenting on an incident that is still being investigated.

  • seDCdude

    Ayy TH

    Don't insult me clown!!!

    He created the climate that now surrounds the district!!

    The "police state" that we are heading towards and HE ushered in all these gentrified, fried, out of town whites who are now PO PO (MPD/WMATA) PARK, CAPITOL, amtrak, Fire Fighters and Teachers who have no personal stake in this community whatsoever!

    You sure you're not FENTY!?

    GTFOH, I don't need yours or anyone else's validation...I am all the way hip and conscious!