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Two say FBI employee drove her car into them

Damage suit says she was ‘agitated’

- The Washington Times - Monday, April 4, 2011

Two Voice of America camera operators say an FBI employee in her personal vehicle struck them and carried one of the men a short distance on her hood after she became agitated the men were blocking traffic on a busy downtown D.C. street.

Thomas Bagnall and William Greenback filed a lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court on Monday accusing Joy Ellen Mullinax of hitting them in front of the National Press Club on 14th Street in Northwest with her 2003 Hyundai Accent.

Mr. Bagnall and Mr. Greenback say in court papers that the incident occurred around 8:30 a.m. on March 23 as the men unloaded equipment curbside from their parked Ford Escape.

The complaint says Ms. Mullinax, 38, of Woodbridge, stopped her car behind the men to let out a passenger before becoming "agitated" and driving close to the SUV's bumper. It says she began honking her horn.

Mr. Bagnall, 56, of Rockville, signaled for her to go around the SUV, at which point court records say Ms. Mullinax accelerated into him.

Mr. Greenback, 67, of Riva, Md., got out of the driver's seat of the Escape and tried to stop Ms. Mullinax from leaving.

"Defendant Mullinax then accelerated her vehicle, pinning Greenback" between her car and the car in front of her, the court records say, adding that Mr. Greenback ended up on the hood of Ms. Mullinax's car.

Ms. Mullinax then collided with another vehicle as she attempted to pull away with Mr. Greenback still on the hood and pleading with her to stop.

Ms. Mullinax eventually stopped her car after traveling up 14th Street and turning on F Street.

A Metropolitan Police officer arrived at the scene, and court papers say Ms. Mullinax called "her employer."

Several FBI agents responded and spoke with the police officer on the scene, the papers say. Neither Mr. Bagnall nor Mr. Greenback was seriously injured, although Mr. Bagnall suffered multiple scrapes and a knee injury.

Mr. Greenback was shaken when he retold the story to The Washington Times on Monday.

"The whole time I'm telling her to stop … and the next thing I know she takes off and my legs come out from underneath me, just like in the movies. She goes up 14th Street with me hanging on," he said.

Reached by phone Monday, Ms. Mullinax declined to comment on the incident or the lawsuit.

The men are suing her for $1 million apiece.

Mr. Greenback was also shocked that police only issued Ms. Mullinax a $100 moving violation fine for changing lanes without caution.

A witness at the scene agreed.

"This lady clearly lost her cool and let road rage get the best of her," said Jeneen Beer, who was driving the car in front of Ms. Mullinax and described the incident in a statement accompanying the complaint.

"I'm appalled that the D.C. police department did not arrest or give this lady a more serious ticket. Instead the officer is treating his incident as a 'traffic accident' when in fact, this was no accident. This was clearly intentional," she said.

An FBI spokesman said he was not familiar with the incident and said agency policy prohibits him from confirming information about Ms. Mullinax, including whether she is an employee. She is identified as an FBI employee in the complaint and a traffic report taken at the scene lists her employer as the "U.S. government."

The FBI spokesman said, in general, cases of impropriety are thoroughly investigated and that FBI agents are not supposed to use their office to influence any type of legal proceedings.

Mr. Greenback and Mr. Bagnall were cited for parking illegally.

A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for July 8.

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