New details on Metro wheelchair case
Updated: May 25, 2011 - 12:49 pm
The two Metro Transit police officers seen handling a wheelchair-bound man in a YouTube video have been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation into the incident, a WMATA spokesman said Tuesday evening.
WMATA spokesman Dan Stessel said the two officers involved in the incident will continue to work in administrative roles for the Metro Transit Police Department.
The U.S. Attorney's office had charged that man, Dwight Harris, with assault on police officers, but on Tuesday dropped those charges.
Witness Rob Cristwell says Harris was drinking a beer when the officers approached him. "They just snatched him out,” Cristwell said. “Knee in his back, excessive force, that ain't right"
Many commenters said the police seemed to act unnecessarily forceful in the video. "I saw no excusable reason to be that rough,” said District resident Melissa Wohlgemuth, who called the police action “highly unnecessary."
While Harris recovers from his injuries, his friend Lawrence Miller is back out on U Street selling his oils and incense. He too was arrested during the incident and is heard yelling in the video.
A video of the incident was posted on YouTube, showing two officers, one on each side of Harris seeming to lift him out of the wheelchair and then crashing to the ground with him face first. Blood pooled under the man's head as the Metro Transit officers tried to shoo away complaining onlookers.
In addition to dropping the charges, US Attorney Spokesman Bill Miller said that the office will be conducting a review the entire matter.
The incident took place last Thursday outside the Metro station on U Street Northwest between 13th and 14th Streets. Residents and workers in the area say Harris has been a fixture in the community selling "Street Sense," the newspaper of the homeless, for years.
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