WASHINGTON (ABC7) — For the last two weeks, the 5200 block of Sheriff Road, NE has been the scene of tension between DC Police and residents.
People have accused police of staging a search of a man outside of Nook’s Barbershop so they could justify a stop and frisk on others. The June 13 incident was captured on video.
Officers searched a man who had just walked up to the scene and found a gun on him. It was a BB gun, police now say.
Those who were there say they didn’t know the man and they believe he was planted by police so they could search everyone else without warrants. Police found nothing on the other people.
Residents say it was an illegal stop-and-frisk.
Police Chief Peter Newsham disagrees, saying, "That is an elite unit that is making our community safer."
"He's calling my community liars,” says ANC Commisioner Anthony Lorenzo Green. “He's calling the entire block liars."
In what some call retaliation, a YouTube video showed some men on the block seemingly cornering two young beat officers against a wall Sunday night.
Then, the following night, police were back in force. A cursing, screaming confrontation between police and residents that included pepper spray and four arrests. One woman said her 3-year-old niece was hit with pepper spray and had to be taken to a hospital.
"The police, in my opinion, were extremely restrained under very difficult circumstances,” Newsham says. “Unfortunately, some of the people involved in that incident, put their hands on the police.”
The chief at his news conference Thursday said there had been a spike in homicides in east-of-the-river neighborhoods, saying the gun unit solved one this week.
But a check of the DC Police crime map shows that crime in the neighborhood around Sheriff Road is down about 50 percent compared to last year.
Newsham also denied that police used an undercover officer in the June 13 incident. And he made no apologies for their tactics.