Councilmember and MPD Puzzled About Delay in Extraditing Hill East Rape Suspect; & There’s a New Sheriff in PSA 108
by Larry Janezich
At the PSA 108 meetingThursday night attended by about 40 community members, Hill East residents expressed concern over the lack of information regarding the status of the suspect in the violent rape and home invasion near 18th and A Streets, SE, in Hill East. Residents were concerned that no information has been forthcoming about the crime. Hill East activist Jim Meyers pressed officials about the absence of information, wondering how the suspect ”got here or was he here all along?”
MPD 1st District Commander Brown responded that though a suspect is in custody in another jurisdiction (Prince Georges County, Maryland) the suspect’s name will be withheld until he is extradited and charged in DC. He said that he had to “protect the integrity of the process and not do anything that would jeopardize the case.” Likewise, Brown was unable to say why it was taking so long to extradite the suspect: “I’m not sure whether he’s fighting extradition.”
The inability to provide definitive information in reply to questions such as this exemplifies the frustrating interaction between MPD and residents that discourages attendance to PSA meetings, undercutting the mutually desired goal of effective community policing.
The next morning, at a regularly scheduled meeting with community members, Councilmember Charles Allen said he was puzzled why the extradition was taking so long. He credited Jackie Bensen of NBC News 4 with having reported additional details regarding the suspect in the rape case.
As reported on the NBC4 website (http://bit.ly/1T7uCKe – search recent stories by “Jackie Benson” ), those details include:
- The 21 year old suspect has been on 3 years’ probation after 2 years in jail for a 2013 armed robbery.
- He was arrested September 30, 2015, at MLK Library and charged with felony drug possession.
- When arrested at MLK he had in his backpack a tampered-with Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) bracelet in his back pack when arrested.
- He was subsequently released on the condition he stay away from MLK Library and refrain from engaging in crime.
- After the Hill East rape, he was arrested in Prince George’s County on an unrelated charge.
- He is being held in Prince George’s county on $35,000 bond.
- MPD has placed a “hold” on the suspect
During the Thursday night’s PSA meeting, when a resident raised the question of the tampered-with ankle bracelet in connection with the suspect and asked under whose authority the bracelet had been issued, neither Clifford Keenan from the DC Pretrial Services Agency nor Michael Bonds from the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA), both of whom were in attendance, could say whether the case came under jurisdiction of their agencies. Court documents in the report by NBC4’s Jackie Bensen revealed that it was CSOSA. In response to questions, Commander Brown mentioned that tampering with or removal of an ankle bracelet constituted a separate offense.
(A link to make contributions to the community fund for the victim in the Hill East rape case and family is here: http://capitolhillneighbors.org/)
The PSA 108 meeting was the first presided over by Lt. Damion Taylor, and it featured a host of officials representing various DC criminal justice system agencies. But none offered concrete answers in response to questions – and, in the case of Michael Bonds, he claimed to be unaware of any felonies committed by a person who fell under his agency’s supervision. As a result, parts of the meeting lapsed into a familiar superficial public relations exercise familiar to many who attend PSA meetings in search of answers. Taylor promised to facilitate more exchange in the next meeting, and in particular he expressed his desire to invite a representative from the Office of Unified Communications (OUC), the agency charged with fielding 9-1-1 calls, in order to respond to a number of concerns raised Hill East residents, including incompetence and unprofessionalism. Last May, Muriel Bowser accepted the resignation of the previous director of the OUC and vowed changes to the agency. According to residents at the PSA meeting, those changes are not yet apparent.
Lt. Taylor wants the community to participate to a greater extent in setting the agenda for and organizing the PSA meeting. He is asking for 2 or 3 volunteers to run the meetings and to get feedback “on what you want to do,” adding, “I want you to tell me who you want to hear from.”
Taylor is a DC native who attended Eastern High and received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from GWU. He has been on the force 11 years and has a broad range of experience, including undercover work, experience with the mobile crime unit, and experience as a PSA Lt. in MPD Districts 4 and 5. He called District 1 the “cream of the crop” and said police dream of working here. Taylor says, ”I’m optimistic but the police can’t do it alone. You’re the community – you live here and I work for you. I want to know the things you feel are important. Tell me and I’ll give you feedback next month.”
CHC has some questions for next month, including:
Why was the suspect in the rape case free after a felony arrest while being on probation?
On whose authority was he released?
Was the rape suspect supposed to be wearing an ankle bracelet, and if so did the one found in his backpack belong to him?
Why is it taking so long to extradite him?
What connected the suspect arrested in PG County to the rape in Hill East?
What was the Hill East rape suspect charged with in PG County?
Why don’t officials from CSOSA know that one of its monitoring devices had been tampered with and was in the possession of a person arrested for a felony who later became a suspect in a rape case? Are failures like this too frequent to attract notice?
What is being done to improve 9-1-1 services at the Office of Unified Communications?