July 28, 2011 at 2:31 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Gay man says D.C. police lost $8,000 ring after arrest

A gay Virginia man has accused Second District D.C. police officials of losing an $8,000 diamond ring he says they took from him at the time they placed him in a cell following his July 21 arrest on an assault charge.

Clifford Ward told the Blade that officers took the ring and other personal belongings from him when they processed his arrest. He said that when he was released the following day after a court appearance, officers told him the ring was reported missing in a police log.

“Our Internal Affairs Division will look into the allegations addressed in this complaint,” said Gwendolyn Crump, a police spokesperson. “I cannot comment further at this time.”

Ward said police have not returned his repeated calls asking about the ring. He describes it as a platinum ring with four black diamonds, saying its disappearance added to the emotional stress he suffered from his arrest.

A police charging document filed in D.C. Superior Court says Ward was charged with assault with significant bodily injury, a felony, for allegedly punching a woman in the face “with a closed fist causing a severe laceration to her lip.” The charging document says the alleged assault occurred on the sidewalk in front of 2130 P Street, N.W., near several gay bars, about 6 p.m. on July 21.

The document says the alleged victim is the owner of the Solar Planet tanning salon at that address. It says the woman, identified as Karen Weber, accuses Ward of entering her shop and placing three bottles of tanning lotion worth $185.97 in the pockets of his cargo shorts before leaving the shop without paying for them.

It says Weber followed Ward out of the store and confronted him about the items, at which time he allegedly punched her in the face.

Ward, in a telephone interview, denied he took anything from Weber’s store. He said he entered the store to look for his sister, who he said entered the shop to ask about prices for tanning services. He said he left the store and was standing on the sidewalk waiting for his sister when Weber “attacked” him and began “ripping off all my clothes” while accusing him of shoplifting.

He said he hit her with his elbow in self-defense, fearing that she would seriously injure him.

But the police charging document says at least three witnesses told police they saw Ward hit Weber in the face with his fist. The document says “Weber recovered during the struggle with defendant Ward” three bottles of tanning lotion. She told the Blade that witnesses on the street saw the bottles fall out of Ward’s pockets.

Ward was scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 9 for a preliminary hearing on the case.


Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • Mr. Ward should have (1) acted in a civil manner in which case none of this would have transpired, (2) gone with his “sister” to the beach and got a real tan and not a fake one, (3) not been a thief, (4) not worn his alleged (it may be costume jewelry) $8000 ring while cruising DC streets, (5) put $8000 in an IRA and not used it to buy an unnecessary item, and (6) on and on. He should check local pawn shops for it.

    • Wow. That’s quite a response to theft.

      The police took his ring from him, gave him a receipt, and lost (or claim to have lost) the ring. They’re going to have to compensate him, regardless of whether he’s guilty as charged and regardless of whether they lost it or stole it. If it’s really worth $8000 I hope he has had it appraised.

  • Blade, how exactly is this news? Isn’t this more like whining? Yes, the DC police steal things. Yes, trashy gays steal things. Mr Ward is just upset that instead of ending the day plus three bottles of tanning lotion he’s down one $40 fakemond ring. Next time he’ll learn to shoplift someone trashier…like Del Ray.

  • How isn’t this news? You think we shouldn’t know about the police stealing rings (fake or not)?

  • So by simply adding the adjective “gay” to any given story, it becomes both topical and newsworthy at the Blade? This is a story about a guy that got caught stealing suntan lotion…a better headliner would be “GAY MAN ARRESTED FOR STEALING SUNTAN LOTION, COMMUNITY EMBARASSED.”

  • Of course this is news, and not a bit like whining. What an odd comment to make.

  • Yeah – I would go with Gay Man Arrest – community embrassed headline personally. This is just a bit silly.

  • Agree with others here. This is a story about a thief in our neighborhood who MAY have been a victim of theft himself after his arrest. Furthermore, the prosecutors should charge him with robbery for using force while taking property from another.

  • Shoulod Read…”Pathological Liar Snared in Suntan Scam”. I don’t remember reading about a reciept. Where is that coming from? Perhaps the three witnesses saw it, when they saw the suntan lotion he didn’t steal fall from his cargo shorts. ( aren’t those way last year?)

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