An off-duty D.C. police officer said he was inappropriately searched, tackled and detained by Prince George’s County Police officers who were looking for a gunman near the Iverson Mall Tuesday afternoon.
Officer Robert Parker, Jr., a five-year veteran and current member of the District’s Harbor Patrol dive team, said the police sergeant who initially detained him patted him down without warning and without proper justification. Parker, Jr. also said the sergeant acted “too quick” and that he was unable to identify himself as a police officer until the sergeant felt his weapon and took him to the ground.
The Prince George’s County Police department defended the officers’ actions, noting that Parker, Jr. “fit the description” of a man who had just shot someone in the mall’s parking lot. Officials said Parker, Jr. did not identify himself as a member of law enforcement until after he was restrained. Parker, Jr. said he was also hit in the face by an officer.
Prince George’s County Police defended the officers, noting that Parker fit the description of a man who had just shot and wounded someone in the mall parking lot. County police said Parker did not identify himself as an officer until after he was restrained. They said they have reviewed audio of the incident.
“We believe our officer acted professionally and with restraint,” Lt. Dave Coleman, a spokesman for Prince George’s County Police said. “This encounter took place within several minutes of the shooting being reported at Iverson Mall and occurred three blocks from the shooting scene.”
The suspect was described as a Black man in blue jeans with a black top. Parker, Jr. matched the description, Coleman said. Parker, Jr. said he was wearing a black hoodie and black jacket with blue jeans.
While Coleman couldn’t detail exactly how much time elapsed between the start of Parker, Jr.’s encounter with police and when he was taken to the ground, he did say “he had plenty of time to identify himself as a police officer.”
Parker, Jr. says he was just two blocks away from his home when he was profiled. The 28-year-old said he had seen county police cruisers and suspected something had happened.
He also said the sergeant passed him once and slowed down, then returned and confronted him.
He said the sergeant immediately “walked up to me and started patting me down.”
“I kept my hands out and to the mid-side of my body,” Parker, Jr. said. “My hands were visible, out to my side.” He said the sergeant told him: “I’ve seen you out here walking earlier. We’re looking for somebody, and we want to make sure you’re good.”
“I was in disbelief,” Parker said. “He didn’t tell me what for. He feels my gun, and I said, ‘I’m a police officer.’ At that moment, he took me to the ground.”