August 11, 2011 at 11:13 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Teen charged in D.C. lesbian attack held without bond

A D.C. Superior Court judge on Wednesday ordered a 19-year-old District man held in jail without bond following his arrest one day earlier for allegedly assaulting five lesbians on July 30 on the sidewalk next to the Columbia Heights Metro station.

Judge Karen Howze issued the order after prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s office charged Christian Washington with one count each of hate related simple assault and hate related threats to do bodily harm. Both charges are listed as misdemeanors.

A report of the incident prepared by an officer with the police department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit says Washington allegedly called the five women “dyke bitches” before he and an unidentified male suspect allegedly punched each of the women in the face and head.

Police said the incident took place at 14th and Irving Streets, N.W. about 3 a.m. Police said they are continuing to investigate whether others were involved in the attack.

Two of the victims told the Blade that one of the two suspects became enraged when the women politely spurned his attempt to flirt with them and one of the women informed him she was with her girlfriend. The two women said a second suspect joined in the attack and a third man who was with the attackers used his cell phone to capture the incident on video.

In a court hearing Wednesday, Washington pleaded not guilty to the two charges.

Howze scheduled a follow-up hearing on Aug. 17 to determine whether Washington should be released while awaiting trial or continue to be held. The judge set a status hearing on the case for Sept. 6.

Court records show that Washington was arrested on July 26 — four days before his alleged role in assaulting the five women — on a charge of unauthorized use of a vehicle that police say was a motor scooter. That arrest took place near the 1300 block of Columbia Rd., N.W.

A police report shows that Washington and a second man riding on the scooter with him led police on a Hollywood-style chase through streets and alleys before the men dismounted the scooter and attempted to flee on foot. The report says police apprehended Washington but the second suspect escaped.

Court records show Washington was released on his own recognizance at a July 27 court hearing after being formally charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle.

The attack against the five women drew widespread media attention when news surfaced that police officers arriving on the scene refused to take a report of the incident and released a suspect they apprehended upon their arrival.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier released a statement calling the officers’ behavior “appalling.” She told members of the D.C. group Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence that the officers could be fired for not taking a report depending on the finding of an investigation of the incident.

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

  • Oh…so the necessity of a report is made evident, so much so that an arrest was made. So much so that the arrestee is held without bond. Not from the first responders at the scene from an investigation launched after the incident…rather than during the incedent. Wow…this still happens in 2011.

  • Chief Lanier has found her officers’ anti-LGBT conduct “appalling” too many times before. What if that’s part of the Chiefs’ reactive, after-the-fact, public relations script?

    On its face, it does appear that a de facto policy at MPD continues — from top to bottom …
    — discourage the reporting of anti-LGBT hate crimes,
    — do not call GLLU,
    — do not make arrests

    To do so — to actually enforce the laws for LGBT victims — makes the Chief of Police look bad. It has other legal implications that a police chief might wish to avoid, as well.

    Having first responding officers call GLLU into a case to investigate, may result in recording, forever, a REAL suspected violation of DC’s tough Bias-Related Crimes Act (About 1989-90. Thank you, GLAA, BTW!) — that then triggers tracking and reporting requirements, whether the crime results in an arrest or remains open. If that happens (indeed, whether the first responding non-GLLU officer or a GLLU officer so checks it off and writes it up on the MPD complaint report), as I understand that law (I’m not a lawyer, to be clear), an automatic *CAUSE OF ACTION* is/ may be created, so that the victim(s) may also seek civil remedies, irrespective of how the criminal case may be ultimately adjudicated.

    Whether MPD (DC) could be sued in this case, under the Bias-Related Crimes Act, for failing to make an initial report when asked at the scene by the victims to do so, e.g., is something for lawyers to determine. But IMHO, that provision in the law is designed to preserve and protect the victims’ rights against discriminatory behavior by MPD and others in the criminal justice system.

    So it is reasonable to ask, after 4 1/2 years, whether our Chief of Police, through her anti-GLLU policies is advancing anti-LGBT discrimination at MPD. By all accounts she manages MPD, top down, with an iron fist. Just why is it Chiefs Lanier and Groomes have been unable to make it clear to their rank and file responding officers that GLLU must be called in any case involving a potential anti-LGBT hate crime??? It defies credulity to imply that somehow these were rogue cops risking their careers and livelihoods to defy Chief Lanier and Patrol Services Assistant Chief Groomes.

    Just last May, the Blade reported that calls to GLLU by responding officers have noticeably fallen off…
    “Rivera’s appointment comes at a time when sources familiar with the GLLU have said the unit has not been called on for help by other police investigatory units, like the homicide squad, as frequently as it has in the past.”

    Moreover, it may be a motive for the Police Chief’s manipulation of MPD news and information of suspected anti-LGBT hate crimes. Could it be that MPD ‘news management’ is designed to keep anti-LGBT hate crimes and potential discrimination charges “boxed up” solely WITHIN DC’s LGBT community?

    Why was this OFFICIAL MPD public safety information withheld for two days? Why was it selectively divulged to GLOV first? Why not an MPD press conference with Lanier or Groomes breaking this terrible, however embarrassing news? Did the Chief issue a MPD press release/ statement/ BOLO alert, citywide, at the same time GLOV was alerted? If not, why not?

    If there is a de facto anti-LGBT discriminatory policy — subtly being communicated from MPD’s highest levels — one certainly does not want the scrutiny of the city’s wider renowned, inquiring press corps to be asking tough questions of MPD’s chiefs, too.

    • Take a pill, you’ll feel better.

    • Dude, get a grip. Instead of writing a 10000 word diatribe why not use your apparent frustration and determination to right your perceived many wrongs and injustices inflicted on DC’s gay community directly to Lanier?

      • It’s not an easy story to tell, laurelboy2. There are a lot of dots to connect.

        And be assured, like so many other LGBT activists in DC… I HAVE tried to persuade the Chief directly of the error of her ways with respect to GLLU’s core unit. But obviously, to no avail. FYI, I have exchanged a good number of emails with the Chief, and have even met her once, briefly. The Chief has nearly always responded to my direct emails — but with non-committal results.

        We had quite a lot of anti-LGBT political intrigue in 5D under a previous commander, but he was promoted to Assistant Chief. I’d have to assess her response to my complaints locally as providing mixed results within 5D– again, re. strictly LGBT-related issues.

        Also, FYI, from what anyone can gather from a series of emails, I DO like Chief Lanier as a person. First and foremost, she’s a good cop. She’s thoughtful. But she’s incredibly sharp and fast-thinking, too. Her personal life story is inspiring, as well– especially for those of us with nieces or daughters.

        She and I (and a growing number of other LGBT residents) just strongly disagree on community policing for the LGBT community. I don’t believe the Chief understands how disastrous and how institutionally discriminatory, de facto, her policy has been. It’ has also been accompanied by too much public hype and official prevarication, as well. So I can’t say she is a good Police Chief.

        Perhaps the worst outcome is that IMO, the Chief has caused MPD to lose too much trust and good will within the LGBT community, and that’s why I believe she step aside as Chief and move on, or pursue another career here, if she’s so disposed.

  • The Police Chief is always apologizing for her cops and she already knows she gave the directives for their actions. Maybe Vincent Grey should just relieve her of her duties and hire someone that’s a member of our community.

  • “D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier released a statement calling the officers’ behavior “appalling.” She told members of the D.C. group Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence that the officers could be fired for not taking a report depending on the finding of an investigation of the incident.”

    Could be fired? How about will be fired?

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