In a case of mistaken identity, an off-duty D.C. police officer was tackled to the ground and punched in the face by Prince George’s County Police officers searching for a shooting suspect in the vicinity wearing a black hoodie. Although police officials claim that an audio recording of the incident exonerates the arresting officer, they refuse to release the recording to the public.
Around 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Prince George’s County Police officers responded to reports of a black male wearing a black hoodie and blue jeans who had just shot and wounded a man during a dispute near the Iverson Mall parking lot. Matching the description of the shooting suspect, off-duty Officer Robert Parker Jr., who is assigned to the District’s Harbor Patrol dive team, was walking home after dropping his car off at a repair shop when a police sergeant and two other officers confronted him.
Keeping his hands visible and at his sides the entire time, Parker stopped walking and recalled the sergeant saying, “I’ve seen you out here walking earlier. We’re looking for somebody, and we want to make sure you’re good.”
“And I can’t remember if I said okay or was just kind of baffled at the moment, and he walked up to me and he started patting me down and I’m just thinking, is this really happening? Because I know the protocol because I’m a police officer,” Parker told FOX 5. “He reaches around and feels my sidearm, my firearm, and I look at him and I see the look in his eye and I say, ‘I’m the police.’ I’m literally slammed. I went to the ground. I kept saying, ‘I’m the police. I’m the police.’ There were two other officers there. I felt their presence, and they placed me in handcuffs, and then somebody hit me in the right side of my face.”
Parker asserts that he identified himself as a police officer immediately when his gun was discovered during the pat down, but Prince George’s County police spokesman Lt. Dave Coleman claims Parker did not identify himself as a fellow cop until after he was taken to the ground and restrained by the officers. Despite the fact that the police have reviewed an audio recording of the incident, they have decided not to release it to the public.
“Based on our preliminary investigation and preliminary review of an audio recording of the encounter in question, we believe our officer acted professionally and with restraint,” Prince George’s County police wrote in a recent statement. “This encounter took place within several minutes of the shooting being reported at the mall and approximately three blocks from the scene. Our officer who was responding to the shooting, which had just prompted the lock-down of two nearby schools – spotted a man walking who matched the description. Our officer, a sergeant assigned to our district 4 station, got out of his cruiser and began an investigatory stop. During a pat down, our officer discovered the man had a gun on his waistband. At that point, our officer took the man to the ground during a brief struggle. Our preliminary investigation reveals that it was only after the man was restrained by the original officer and backup officers did he identify himself as a police officer.”
Suffering injuries to his left hand, leg, and right side of his face, Parker has hired an attorney and intends to file a formal complaint. Police later identified the shooting suspect as Nicco Rashaad Young and recently released a photo of the 20-year-old who has evaded police custody for several days.