ARLINGTON, Va. (7News) — 7News spoke with the alleged victim of an assault and battery case that led the city to put DC’s Deputy Mayor for Public Safety on leave.
“It was an intimidation tactic. It was bullying. That’s all there was to it. it’s not acceptable,” said Dustin Woodward, a trainer with Gold’s Gym in Arlington’s Ballston neighborhood.
Woodward had a confrontation with DC Deputy Mayor Chris Geldart in the parking lot of the gym early Saturday afternoon.
DC deputy mayor 'on leave' after alleged assault incident outside Arlington Gold's Gym
Woodward tells 7 News the incident began when the rear passenger door of Geldart’s vehicle, which was parked next to the car of Woodward’s girlfriend, banged into her car.
Woodward says his girlfriend initially confronted Geldart, who said her car was parked on the line, which Woodward says was not the case. Woodward says the situation escalated to the point where Geldart was yelling and cursing.
“He’s just screaming nonstop and so, I turn and look at him [and say like, ‘shut up’]. And then he walks up towards me, so I turn around and I’m like, ‘what?’ And then he walks up chest to chest with me,” Woodward said. “And then he sticks his arm up, grabs me by the throat, and I shove him back. [And I said] ‘don’t touch me. Like, don’t touch me.’”
Woodward reported the incident to Arlington County Police, who say this week Geldart turned himself in on a warrant for assault and battery. Geldart is 53 years old and lives in Falls Church.
On Thursday Terry Lynch, executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations -- which represents more than 40 religious congregations – called on Geldart to resign.
“We can all make mistakes. I’m first in line for making mistakes, but this kind of mistake you can’t make when you are the deputy mayor for public safety,” Lynch told 7News.
“Public safety without a doubt right now is the number one issue here in the city. And that’s why having a deputy mayor on duty right now is critical.we don’t have the luxury of the deputy mayor being on extended leave for weeks, months, who knows? It could be longer.”
The mayor’s office says Geldart is on leave while the incident “is under review.”