CRIME

Manassas Park Police officer wounded; suspect shot

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A Manassas Park Police officer was seriously injured when a fleeing suspect drove a car over him early Sunday morning.

But the suspect's parents say their son--who was shot by the officer--has mental issues and wouldn't intentionally hurt an officer.

The incident started at about 1:45 a.m., when Manassas Park Police responded to 8600 block of Cartwright Court to investigate a report of a suspicious vehicle and suspected drug activity.

Manassas Park resident Nicholas Garver says he just stepped out for a smoke when 'chaos' erupted.

"Once the gunshot went off, I realized it was an officer", he says.

Garver says shortly before two o'clock Sunday morning, he saw a man, now identified as 21-year-old Robert Washington III, backing out an illegally parked car from a spot along the 8600 Block of Cartwright Road.

A resident had apparently complained that Washington was parked in his spot.

An officer was sent to investigate a report of "a suspicious car and suspected drug activity".

"He reversed", Garver says. "Trying to get away from the tow truck and the cop. Then he stayed parked up against the car he hit for a second."

The parking lot was in darkness.

Garver says Washington had backed into another car, then the vehicle suddenly moved forward, toward a police officer standing about 13 feet away.

"He kind of lurched, maybe that's why the officer fired and he wasn't responding. Telling him to 'stop the car, stop the car'," he adds.

Garver says the officer fired one shot, just before he says Washington hit the gas.

"I saw the car run him over. I instantly ran down here, came to the aid of the officer. Just held his hand, trying to get him to respond until I was told to flag down the paramedics."

Garver says the officer, with tire marks on his uniform, was on the ground, unconscious but alive.

He says Washington parked the car just yards away, and with a bullet wound to the upper body, walked over to a fire hydrant, where he was arrested by police.

Washington's parents say their son would never deliberately try to hurt a police officer. "It's way out of character for my son", says Robert Washington, Jr.

"He's been complying with all the rules when police come out to talk to him or something like that," he adds.

They say he has mental issues that may have contributed to what happened. "He is schizophrenic and bipolar," says Paulette Washington.

"Robert has a difficult time understanding when it's not presented to him in the correct way," she adds.

The Washingtons say they're concerned for both their son and the police officer. They say they haven't been permitted to speak to or see their son, who's been moved out of the hospital and into jail.

The officer, a five-year veteran of the Manassas Park police force, is in stable condition at Inova Fairfax hospital. His name hasn't been released by authorities.

Washington faces charges that include the attempted murder of a police officer, and malicious wounding.

He's being held in the Prince William County Detention Center until a court hearing likely scheduled for Tuesday.

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