While Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and a majority of the District’s city council members are demanding the passage of new federal gun control laws in the name of increasing public safety, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia is set to dismiss dozens of gun-related charges over allegations of officer misconduct within the Metropolitan Police Department.
According to the Washington Post the allegations are centered around the MPD’s Seventh District Crime Suppression Team, and an internal investigation into the actions of the unit over the past few months has “raised questions about the officers’ credibility.”
Bill Miller, a U.S. attorney’s office spokesman, said in a statement that prosecutors began reassessing pending cases upon learning that the officers were under internal investigation for seizing guns without making arrests, and possibly lying on police reports. Miller declined to say how many cases had been dismissed so far and refused to answer specific questions.
“When our Office learned of the 7-D crime suppression team investigation, we began a case-specific assessment of impacted pending cases,” Miller said in a statement. “In determining how to proceed with each case, we take a number of factors into consideration, including burden of proof, witness availability, likelihood of success on the merits at trial, and the applicable law. Our review is ongoing, but at this point we expect to dismiss dozens of gun and drug possession cases.”
Ironically, while “dozens” of gun cases may be dismissed as the result of the alleged misconduct, it was the lack of an arrest that apparently triggered the initial investigation.
In September, a community member issued a complaint against MPD officers following an interaction with police, which prompted an internal review of the Metropolitan Police Department’s body-worn cameras. During the investigation, MPD discovered a prior incident where two officers confiscated an illegal firearm without making an arrest. The person was able to walk away without an arrest or an arrest warrant.
Although the guns were accounted and turned into evidence for “the officer’s version in the police report is inconsistent with the body-worn camera footage associated with the seizure,” Contee said in September.
That discovery prompted Contee to have MPD review three months’ worth of body-worn cameras.
Seven D.C. police officers, including two supervisors, were placed on “non-contact status,” meaning their roles will not have contact with the general public.
We don’t know the circumstances of each and every questionable arrest, but we do know that the Democrats in charge of Washington, D.C.’s municipal government have made it has difficult as they possibly can to legally own and carry a firearm; from ridiculous training requirements that can’t be met unless gun owners travel to Virginia or Maryland to visit a range to the onerous and burdensome process of purchasing a firearm and registering it with the MPD (the District does not have any gun stores inside its borders, so gun buyers also have to head out-of-state and have their gun transferred to one of just a couple of FFLs in D.C.).
Making it harder to legally keep and bear arms will inevitably lead to some people choosing to break the law; not because they have any violent criminal intent but because they can’t navigate the maze of red tape and government bureaucracy that the District has erected as a barrier between them and their rights. As long as Washington, D.C. is cleaning up the mess allegedly made by officers in the 7th District, maybe the city council can use this as an opportunity to clean up the city’s draconian, nonsensical, unconstitutional, and counterproductive gun laws that are turning a fundamental right into a criminal offense.