Washington Metropolitan Police Department Responds to Homeless Individual With Many Officers

Video Courtesy of Elias Meles

Violence and sirens erupted on the corner of L and 19th Streets NW Friday afternoon, Nov. 13. The block was effectively shut down when at least 5 Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) vehicles responded to the incident: a lone homeless man.

“They’re trying to kill me!” the unidentified man could be heard screaming as he was subdued.

Most employees at surrounding businesses were aware of the commotion but didn’t see anything. A Sweetgreen team member heard the man had punched a security guard. “That’s funny,” a Melt Shop crew member with nothing to report said to a co-worker. “D.C. police kicked the sh** out of a homeless guy, now [a reporter] is here.”

Local parking valet Ashenafi Metaw didn’t see how the altercation started, but he saw it finish and knew the man involved. “I know him almost like five, six months. Sometimes I give him one dollar, two dollars,” Metaw explained. “He’s an honest guy. It’s not fair.”

A security guard who works that block agreed. “He never bothers nobody, something must have happened to set him off.”

Metaw said the man regularly slept in the alley across the street from his parking garage. “So many police for one man, it’s not fair,” Metaw reiterated. “And this was a white guy.”

Elias Meles, Metaw’s friend and weekend soccer teammate, also works nearby and recorded the scene. “I was waiting to cross at 19th Street. It was hard to tell what was going on, but there was a kind of argument between the cop and the guy,” Meles recalled.

He started filming when the officer put a hand on the man’s wrist. He quickly seemed to be resisting arrest. Someone in the gathering crowd said, “It looks like it’s time for taser.”

“They pinned him to the ground. His boot was off to the side,” Meles described. “His jacket and everything was on the ground. His shirt was ripped down the middle. His arm was bleeding.”

First there were three officers on the scene, then they called for backup. “There had to be ten police cars,” Meles said. “For one man.”

The man was putting up enough of a struggle that he could not be handcuffed properly: his arms were contorted in an obviously painful manner.

“Finally, this captain came. He was nice. He told the guy to be calm, that they were just going to readjust the handcuffs,” Meles said. “Then they took him away in the van.”

The police report for this incident was “still in draft mode” and unavailble to the public when Street Sense went to press.