- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The District’s police chief slammed a veteran detective Monday for pulling a gun during a mass snowball fight that had been advertised on Twitter.

Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said she watched video clips from the confrontation and has no doubt that the off-duty detective pulled his gun after snowballs hit his personal car during Saturday’s record snowfall.

“Let me be very clear in stating that I believe the actions of the officer were totally inappropriate!” Chief Lanier said in a statement after the videos made the rounds on YouTube. “In no way should he have handled the situation in this manner.”

Chief Lanier said the detective, whom she did not identify, did not deny the accusations. He is on desk duty until an investigation is complete.

Hundreds of people gathered for the snowball fight on a major street after organizers used social networks such as Twitter to advertise it.

One video posted on YouTube showed a man holding what appears to be a gun in the snowy street. Another video shows the same man telling people that he is “Detective Baylor” and that he pulled his gun because he was hit by snowballs.

At one point, the crowd begins to chant: “Don’t bring a gun to a snowball fight!”

Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham told reporters Monday that the detective’s badge and weapon have been withdrawn. He said the detective has more than 25 years of experience and a good reputation.

Chief Newsham said the internal affairs division wants to complete its investigation as quickly as possible.

“We have to put the whole incident into context,” he said.

There could be a recommendation to discipline the detective, which could range from a reprimand to removal, he said.

Police have at least two videos of the incident, and Chief Newsham said there could be more, as the footage shows other people with cell phones and cameras.

Police are working to obtain any additional material and will continue to speak to witnesses. He asked people to contact police if they have more footage.

There were no arrests, he said.

The videos also show a uniformed police officer holding his gun by his side before holstering it. Police said in a statement Sunday that he was responding to a call about an armed man, acted appropriately and did not point his weapon at anyone.

Chief Newsham praised the work of other officers who arrived at the scene and de-escalated the situation.

He called the incident “very disappointing.”

“It does bring a negative light” on the department, he said, and detracts from the work of hundreds of officers who helped people in the snow and directed traffic.

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