An off-duty Pentagon police officer who shot and killed two people Wednesday morning in Maryland has been charged with second-degree murder, police said Friday.
David Hall Dixon, of Takoma Park, told police he thought the victims were breaking into a car.
Dixon was taken into custody Friday morning, police said.
The victims were identified as Dominique Williams, 32, of Hyattsville, and James Lionel Johnson, 38, of District Heights. The two men were best friends, Johnson's family said.
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Johnson’s girlfriend and relatives said they’re heartbroken by the loss. Johnson was a devoted father of three young kids, including a baby, they said.
“We’re just as a family really struggling with this, trying to put logic into why he was taken away from us. Missing his energy, missing his voice,” said Johnson’s cousin Marcus Kornegay.
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Dixon told police he saw what appeared to be a car being broken into and confronted the men early Wednesday morning in the parking lot area of the Takoma Overlook Condominiums, located at 7333 New Hampshire Avenue.
The men fled in a car with a 36-year-old D.C. man driving, and Dixon fired his service weapon, police said.
"Williams and Johnson were both shot in the rear upper torso, the back area,” said Detective Charles Earle of Takoma Park Police.
Authorities say that indicates that the car had passed Dixon when he fired at it, that it was no longer an immediate threat that would have justified deadly force.
The victims went to Prince George’s Hospital Center, where they died.
Johnson's family says he was the type of person who was always going out of his way to help others.
“His smile could light up the darkest rooms,” said his sister, Lakeisha Johnson.
Takoma Park Police say the case highlights the problems with citizens intervening in crimes and urged citizens to be good witnesses instead.
"We have confirmed that the victims involved and the other individuals were actually breaking into vehicles," Takoma Park Police Chief Antonio DeVaul said.
However, an attorney for Johnson's family says the car they were in at the time of the shooting belonged to a friend who was with the two men.
Authorities said Friday they had no intention of charging the surviving man with any crime and that all three men in the car were victims.
"Our investigation revealed that Mr. Dixon's overview of events was inconsistent with the facts in the case and that Mr. Dixon had no lawful or justifiable reason to shoot and kill Mr. Williams and Mr. Johnson," said Takoma Park Police Chief Antonio DeVaul.
An attorney for Johnson's family said neither victim presented any physical threat or harm. The attorney said they had no reason to believe there were any firearms in the vehicle.
Dixon is charged with two counts of second-degree murder, plus attempted murder for allegedly shooting at the driver as the three men tried to flee, Takoma Park Police said. Those three charges each carry a potential sentence of 40 years in prison, Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy said.
Dixon is also charged with using a firearm in a felony and reckless endangerment.
Takoma Park police are investigating with the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office. The state's attorney's office said they are still gathering evidence.
There is video evidence of the shooting, but it was not immediately clear who had recorded the video.
It was unclear whether Dixon has an attorney.
Dixon is being held without bond in Montgomery County. He will appear before a District Court judge for a bond hearing Monday in Rockville.
“We are deeply saddened about the tragic incident that occurred on Wednesday morning that led to the arrest of Pentagon Police Officer David Dixon today," a statement from the Pentagon Force Protection Agency said Friday. "Our hearts go out to the family members of the victims and the Takoma Park community as they try to cope with this tragedy."
Authorities said they obtained video evidence of an incident in May 2020, when Dixon pointed a shotgun at a homeless woman in his condo building's lobby and pepper-sprayed her.
The woman was accused of attacking people, but authorities say she was suffering a mental health crisis.
Takoma Park Police said they were unaware of Dixon pointing the shotgun at the woman at the time of the incident. Now they will charge him with assaulting the woman.
D.C. police say Dixon also pulled a gun on a man who approached him with a hatchet and threatened him in July 2020. No one was hurt or charged in that incident.
"PFPA is fully aware of two off-duty incidents with local law enforcement involving Officer Dixon while he has been with PFPA," Pentagon police said in a statement Friday evening. "In both instances, PFPA conducted internal administrative investigations and cleared Officer Dixon of agency misconduct. Additionally, Takoma Park Police and MPD also conducted investigations, and he was cleared of any criminal actions."
The Pentagon Force Protection Agency protects Department of Defense personnel, visitors, resources and facilities.
Dixon is on administrative leave pending the results of an internal administrative investigation, the agency said.