Medical Examiner to Rule if Senate Staffer's Death Is Homicide, Police Chief Says

A medical examiner will rule whether a Senate employee's death after an assault outside a Navy Yard restaurant is a homicide, D.C.'s police chief says.

Berner Richard Johnson III, 48, suffered an injury during a fight near Scarlet Oak Restaurant and Bar on K Street SE about 11:30 p.m. on May 15, police said.

Police Chief Peter Newsham said Wednesday police have identified the people involved in the dispute and he was confident his department would "get to the bottom of it."

"We're still waiting for a ruling from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner on whether or not this is going to be determined to be a homicide," Newsham said.

Johnson's family said in a statement that a group of men "viciously" beat him and he was on life support at MedStar Washington Hospial Center for four days.

The family said Johnson, who was known as "Bud," loved the Navy Yard neighborhood where he lived with his wife, Diane, and their son Bo.

"Bud had a big heart. He was a great family man and loved nothing more than spending time with his wife and children. At home, at work and with friends, he always put the concerns of others before his own."

According to a police report, a suspect struck Johnson "about the head" causing his injury. The extent of the injury was unclear.

"The complainant got into a dispute with a group of individuals, ultimately leading to the complainant being assaulted," D.C. police told the community in a post online.

"He was a victim of a violent crime last week in DC, and recently succumbed to the injuries that crime involved," Sen. Chuck Schumer said during remarks on the Senate floor on Monday.

Schumer said Johnson worked as a Senate staff member for 30 years.

"Bud was beloved by his Senate family, the softball team he’s coached, and his many friends and family. I offer my prayers for his partner, Diane, his son Bo, and for all who loved and will miss him," he said.

The Washington Post reports Johnson worked in the document room in the basement of the Hart Senate Office Building.

A spokesperson for D.C. police said the department is investigating the assault.

Police have not released further details about the incident.

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