The Twittering owners of the Capital City Diner are reporting a rather disturbing robbery with what appeared to be a sawed off shotgun. Equally disturbing is the fact that a detective tried to discourage the victims from filing a police report. Because Matt has posted his account several places I'm going to go ahead and reprint it again here. But follow the link for the original post and comments.
We (Matt & Patrick) were walking home late last night on Bladensburg Rd NE just north of the intersection with K St. We were with a friend of ours, aware of our surroundings, and in a well-lit area, but still were victims of a robbery.
We were walking down the street, passed by a group of 4-5 young people (one in a wheelchair), one of which asked if we had any money. After we passed about 10-15 feet, he quickly approached us, presented what appeared to be a sawed-off shotgun in his pants, and then demanded money from us. Two of us handed over some money and they fled up L St NE toward Carver/Langston. 911 was called immediately after, but it took some time for a respose and thus the police couldn’t locate them.
It also took a lot of effort to get interviewed by the police. Frustrated with the slow response, we continued walking home, as the police had Matt’s cell number from when he called. As we reach home, the police dispatcher calls back, asks for our current location, and Matt gives her the address, which she is heard relaying to the police unit (Trinidad 1) responding to our call.
Matt sat on the front porch waiting for the police, but decided to walk down the street to the police car parked at the gas station (1/2 block away) since no one’s shown up yet. Matt approached the group of three officers, but could only get one of them interested in the crime. The other two continued to play with a cell phone or eat sunflower seeds.
Fortunately, the one interested officer seemed genuinely interested, began taking notes, and called a detective to the scene.
Unfortunately, the detective tried repeatedly to convice Matt out of making a report. He stated that a robbery hadn’t occurred since Matt “gave up the money” willingly and the suspect didn’t actually reach into Matt’s pockets to steal the money (Matt handed him the robber money when asked for it). Matt recounted that DC code doesn’t require that a robbery physically touch someone, and that someone using fear (even without a weapon displayed) to take something is considered robbery. Furthermore, the detective reminded Matt that he sticks out because Matt’s a white guy in Trinidad and asked repeatedly if he really really wanted to be remembered by the criminal’s associates if/when he’s prosecuted.
Despite the intimidation and being called stubborn, Matt continually requested that a report be completed for robbery.
The detective begrudgingly asked the other officer to initiate report numbers for “robbery (fear),” which doesn’t require that the suspect display a weapon, only use the fear of having a weapon in the course of a robbery.
We encourage all others to report crime and insist on a report being made. If nothing else, the crime statistics will show a more true reflection of the area’s crime, resulting in potentially more police resources for our neighborhood.
For the moment, it seems we’re just walking targets with no means of recourse except a police response that attempts to discourage reporting of crime. Next time we hear “crime is down in the area,” we can’t help but wonder why; is crime actually down, or is it just not getting reported?
UPDATE: MPD is initiating an investigation into how the above incident was handled.