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3 DC Officers Under Investigation After Video Shows Police Punch Man

dc chief of police robert contee

D.C.’s police chief will refer police officers to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for possible prosecution after an officer was seen on video repeatedly punching a man who police say had an illegal gun. 

Three officers had their police powers revoked and were placed on non-contact status pending a criminal and administrative investigation, Chief of Police Robert Contee said at a news conference Monday. He strongly condemned the actions he saw on video.

“I am embarrassed, disturbed, disheartened and ashamed of what I’ve seen,” Contee said about video circulating online of the incident Sunday in the 1500 block of U Street SE.

The 45-second video clip shows four officers struggling with a man in front of a home. His back is to a fence. One officer suddenly punches the man as two other officers appear to hold him. A fourth officer tries to keep people off camera away. 

“Why you punching him?” someone can be heard shouting again and again.

Officers saw the man engage in a “hand-to-hand drug transaction,” stopped him and patted him down, Contee said. They felt a bulge in his waistband area and found an illegal gun, the chief said.

Police charged the man with possession of an unregistered firearm, carrying a pistol without a license, unlawful possession of ammunition, assault on an officer while armed and resisting arrest. 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office dropped all charges against him, a D.C. Courts spokesman said Monday night. The case was dismissed and the man will not have to appear in court again. 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and MPD’s internal affairs division will investigate the officers' actions, Contee said. Their names were not released.

“This is not the way we train our members to get illegal firearms off the streets,” Contee said.

The D.C. Council cut Mayor Muriel Bowser's request for 170 new police officers over the next two years. The move comes as the District struggles with a surge in shootings. News4's Pat Lawson Muse spoke with the police chief and got his response.

The D.C. Police Union said the officers had been tasked with getting guns off the street.

"While some have rushed to judgement concerning the use of force used by the officers, one thing is certain, the use of force of any kind is not easy to watch," the union said in a statement. "It is important for people to know that the suspect in the video was in possession of a fully loaded .45 caliber 'ghost gun' which was ultimately recovered from the suspect’s front waistband."

"In this case, these officers used a minimal amount a force to subdue a violent suspect in possession of an illegal firearm," the union's statement said. "The suspect made every indication that he was not afraid or reluctant to use the weapon. The suspect was arrested and charged with Carrying an Illegal Firearm, a fully loaded .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol. Four officers were injured in this incident."

3 People Killed, 17 Wounded in 12 DC Shootings

The District suffered a violent weekend that included the killing of a 69-year-old man and 12 shootings that wounded at least 17 people. MPD said three people were shot and killed.

James Beckham, of Suitland, Maryland; Kendall Brown, of Hyattsville, Maryland; and Juwan Williams, of Southeast D.C., were killed in separate shootings Saturday.

Beckham was 69. He was found dead in a car in the 200 block of 49th Street SE, the Metropolitan Police Department said.

Brown was 20. She died after she was found wounded in a home in the 3000 block of Nelson Place SE.

Williams also was 20. He died after he was found shot in the 600 block of 53rd Street SE.  

Police released information on the following shootings in D.C.:

1:45 p.m. Friday: Officers were called to the 900 block of 3rd Street SW for reports of a shooting. A teen boy was found shot. Police distributed photos of a suspect on a Lime rental moped. A reward of as much as $10,000 is offered for information on the crime. 

3:15 p.m. Friday: Officers were called to the 3800 block of 8th Street SE. Two men were found shot and were taken to hospitals. 

12:00 a.m. Saturday: Juwan Williams, 20, was found suffering from a gunshot wound in the 600 block of 53rd Street SE. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Two other men had gunshot wounds that were not believed to be life-threatening. A $25,000 reward is offered for information on the homicide. 

1:45 a.m. Saturday: Officers were called to the 600 block of 53rd Street SE for reports of a shooting. Juwan Williams and two other men were found shot. Williams was pronounced dead at a hospital. He was 20.

3 a.m. Saturday: Officers were called to the 2600 block of 28th Street NE for reports of a shooting. A man was found shot and taken to a hospital with injuries not believed to be life-threatening. 

4:30 p.m. Saturday: Officers called called to the 3000 block of Nelson Place SE. Kendall Brown, 20, of Hyattsville, Maryland, was found inside a home, suffering from a gunshot wound. Medics took her to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead. 

The Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force arrested a suspect in her murder. Amard Jefferson, 22, of Fort Washington, Maryland, was arrested Sunday and charged with second-degree murder while armed. 

6:15 p.m. Saturday: Officers were called to the 200 block of 49th Street SE, where 69-year-old James Beckham of Suitland, Maryland was found dead in a car. No arrests were immediately announced. A $25,000 reward is offered for information on the case. 

10:50 p.m. Saturday: Officers were called to the 400 block of Atlantic Street SE for reports of a shooting. They found one man with a gunshot wound in the nearby 400 block of Condon Terrace SE. He was taken to a hospital with wounds that were not believed to be life-threatening. 

12:30 a.m. Sunday: Officers were called to the 700 block of Kenilworth Avenue NE for reports of a shooting. Two people were found. Information was not immediately released on their conditions.

1:30 a.m. Sunday: Officers were called to the 4200 block of 9th Street SE for reports of a shooting. A man from the scene went to a hospital and was treated for injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening. 

2:30 a.m. Sunday: Officers heard gunshots and found a woman who had been shot in the 200 block of 37th Street SE. The victim was taken to a hospital with wounds that were not believed to be life-threatening. Police are seeking a light-colored sedan caught on surveillance camera. An image shows someone firing from the back seat. Police are offering up to $10,000 for information on the crime.

3:10 a.m. Sunday: Officers were called to the 3700 block of New York Avenue NE near the D.C.-Maryland line. At least three people were found shot and taken to hospitals with injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening. 

In addition to the shootings, at least three people were stabbed in Northeast and Southeast D.C: 

4:30 p.m. Saturday: Officers were called to the 300 block of H Street NE for reports of a stabbing. At least one person was found. Information on their condition was not immediately released. 

2 a.m. Sunday: Officers were called to the 800 block of Yuma Street SE for reports of a stabbing. It was unclear how many people were hurt. 

3:30 a.m. Sunday: Officers were called to the 1200 block of Raum Street NE for reports of a stabbing. At least one person was wounded. Information on their condition was not immediately released. 

Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story. 

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