ONTD Political

Police Officer Brandishes Gun at Snowball Fight in DC: Eye-Witness Report

7:23 pm - 12/19/2009

As you can see in the video, the 14th and U Streets NW snowball fight was some good-natured wintery mayhem. So why did Metropolitan Police Department officers feel the need to bust it up -- and to draw a gun when they did?

Early on, MPD officers tolerated the chaos. Around 150 snowballers lined up on the east and west sides of 14th Street NW just north of U Street, idling politely as passing cars sludged through the intersection before rushing out to meet one another on the icy field of combat. A few activist-types carried riot shields featuring the anarchy symbol and unfurled a giant banner reading "No War but Snow War." One snowballer carried an IKEA bag full of snowballs, as good a visual metaphor for a snowball fight at that intersection as you could hope to find. Good times.

The crowds attacked each other without mercy, but each side duly recognized the rules of war. When cars stalled in the snow, snow warriors put down their arms and gathered to help push the vehicles free. Between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., a number of cops pulled up to or through the intersection, but none lingered or interfered with the snowball fight. One cop car got stuck in the muck while trying to make a U-turn at the intersection, and the crowd cheered when a half-dozen snow warriors pushed the squad car free.

At around 3 p.m., friends and I decided we'd seen enough flurry-fueled fury for the day. Before we could turn off the northeast corner of 14th Street and U Street, people around us began shouting "Hummer!" A red Hummer was stopped at that intersection, facing west. A plainsclothed figure was walking around it, speaking into a walkie-talkie. My first thought was that he was stalled; my second that he was a WMATA official. The crowd buzzed about there being some official stuck in a Hummer. While most snowballers up 14th Street continued to direct their attacks at one another, some people at the intersection began throwing snowballs at him and his vehicle.

The official's behavior did not discourage the snowballers. He paced in front of the Hummer, tolerating direct strikes with snowballs. Another person would have hopped back into his warm giant ride (or, you know, thrown snowballs back). At that time, I asked the people around me who the official was and several people told me that his name was Detective Bailey.

No one could confirm that he had said his name or shown anyone a badge, but many people said that he was Detective Bailey. At that time, he strode over to the crowd at the northeast corner and said, "When backup arrives, I'm having you -- and you -- and you -- and you -- arrested." He pointed to four individuals standing around me, all black males in their young 20s who seemed to be there together. He was not wearing a visible badge nor did he present one. Apparently, these guys had thrown snowballs at him.

The crowd began to swell. Detective Bailey -- and I am calling him that but could not confirm that that was his name -- told people, including me, to step back on the sidewalk, as the crowd began to clamor about police busting up the snow fight. The official challenged the crowd: "Someone throw another snowball. Someone throw another snowball. I dare you, see what happens." Someone in the crowd shouted back: "Who are you? What are you going to do about it?"

At least two squad cars arrived. A uniformed police officer walked over from the middle of the intersection brandishing a gun. At that time, the crowd was fully assembled on the sidewalk, and no one was throwing snowballs at Detective Bailey or his Hummer. He joined Detective Bailey, about 15 feet from me and the others on the sidewalk, holding the gun.

This officer never pointed the gun at anyone or waved it at snowballers, as some reports I saw on Twitter suggested. But it is frightening when someone walks in your direction carrying a pistol, especially when citizens and police are yelling at one another. He held the weapon at his side for 6 or 7 minutes before putting it away. Two other officers on the scene looked bored. The protester-snowballers rushed over, one unfurling a giant black flag and drawing cheers from the crowd.

People began to chant: "You don't bring a gun to a snowball fight!" By that time, most of the snowballing crowd was focused on the scrum at the northeast corner of the intersection. Police moved through the crowd and detained one white male, who looked to be in his mid- to late-20s, and moved him out to the intersection where the Hummer and police cars were idling. Apparently, he had thrown a snowball at Detective Bailey, though the young man protested that he did no such thing. He was held there for at least several minutes. Someone yelled, "We got a bunch of lawyers in the crowd!"

I did not see what happened to him -- I had my dog with me, the crowd around me was getting trample-y, and I wasn't making any progress to the front to ask questions, so I departed.

This much is certain. Detective Bailey, whoever he was, was in a pissy mood and provoked onlookers in an unmistakable effort to escalate the situation. Was he even on duty? Further, the officer who appeared on the scene carrying a drawn weapon unnecessarily struck fear into the crowd and might have provoked a panic. If MPD felt it necessary to disperse the crowd, there are easier and more reasonable ways to do so. Even one of the other police officers complained about being called in to stop a snowball fight.


The person I refer to as "Detective Bailey" can be seen and heard in that video saying "You're going to jail, and you're going to jail," to people on the sidewalk he accused of throwing snowballs at him and his Hummer. One eye-witness in the video says incorrectly that he "freaked out, got out of his car, and pulled out a gun." This is wrong -- at no time did he (Detective Bailey) brandish a weapon. In fact, a big part of the problem was that he didn't freak out -- or otherwise indicate his authority.

Instead, he paced in front of his car, talking on a walkie-talkie and enduring snowballs from snowballers who had targeted his ostentatious vehicle. Finally, he turned on the crowd and began threatening arrests. Up to that point in the day, several hundred people had avoided throwing snowballs at any of the police cars that came through the intersection, and even helped one car that got stuck. During that time that he was on the walkie-talkie, as Detective Bailey told the crowd, he was calling in backup.

So MPD responded to both his request for assistance and a 9-1-1 call about a man with a weapon? That is entirely possible, but just one officer appeared with a weapon drawn, and he did not seem to be in a hurry, and he continued to assist Detective Bailey after arriving and consulting with him. And when the white mid-20s male was detained by police, he yelled to the crowd that he hadn't thrown any snowballs at police.


also - some photos here


abiding 20th-Dec-2009 12:42 am (UTC)
lol never mind!

Edited at 2009-12-20 12:42 am (UTC)
littlestarletta 20th-Dec-2009 12:43 am (UTC)
Yeah I knew that was going to happen so I edited right away - LJ is sucking lately. I also added some bolding
abiding 20th-Dec-2009 12:44 am (UTC)
I just finished rofl. Detective Bailey is fucked up.
winniecooper 20th-Dec-2009 12:43 am (UTC)
Glad I missed this! It's just around the corner from me. 14th and U is probably one of the most cop filled intersections in the relatively "safe" NW.
jaeoji OT but related20th-Dec-2009 12:46 am (UTC)
So two days ago I was driving down a major road and a red light is coming up, and two cars infront of me just pulls over and two guys get out, quickly flash their badges, then just open the doors of this guys car and get him out and then flash their badges to everyone else (and my ass that is literally staring like :O) It was the most sketch thing in the world, I didn't even know cops were actually allowed to just open someone's car doors like that.

It was so sketch.

Back on topic: that guy should be suspended or fired. Cops are supposed to protect us, not scare the shit out of us because they have anger management issues.
faylnncortez Re: OT but related20th-Dec-2009 02:56 am (UTC)
Did you get the guys license plate and call the DA or something?
officer_down Re: OT but related20th-Dec-2009 10:19 am (UTC)
if they have a warrant for that person or they know for a fact that the vehicle was stolen they can.
ladypolitik 20th-Dec-2009 12:46 am (UTC)
abiding 20th-Dec-2009 12:48 am (UTC)
lol she looks so smug
ladypolitik 20th-Dec-2009 12:49 am (UTC)
Her mouth is saying, "You're doing it wrong", but her eyes are saying "LOL YOU FAIL, BITCH".
abiding 20th-Dec-2009 12:50 am (UTC)
arisma 20th-Dec-2009 08:23 am (UTC)
I'm thisclose to being totally over the word fierce but... hot damn if she's not fierce.
devil_details 20th-Dec-2009 12:52 am (UTC)
This is why we can't have nice things.
synekdokee 20th-Dec-2009 12:57 am (UTC)
What an asshole, but dear OP: what's with the topic line, when the article plainly states that no brandishing was done?
littlestarletta 20th-Dec-2009 12:59 am (UTC)
I copied the title from the source
volksjager 20th-Dec-2009 01:24 am (UTC)
Yikes internet police LOL...
synekdokee 20th-Dec-2009 01:33 am (UTC)
I thought it's a fairly reasonable question.
littlestarletta 20th-Dec-2009 02:34 am (UTC)
actually I edited the post -- he admits it himself
randomneses 20th-Dec-2009 12:59 am (UTC)
Lolz OMG 14th and U XD


Edited at 2009-12-20 12:59 am (UTC)
chibi_lurrel 20th-Dec-2009 04:32 am (UTC)
I think Brightest Young Things was hosting it?
julieannie 20th-Dec-2009 01:12 am (UTC)
My high school friend was there. I've been following it via her facebook feed.
ojuzu 20th-Dec-2009 01:14 am (UTC)
My reaction to this article, almost verbatim:

Around 150 snowballers lined up on the east and west sides of 14th Street NW just north of U Street, idling politely as passing cars sludged through the intersection before rushing out to meet one another on the icy field of combat.

Okay, yup, snowball fight . . .

The official's behavior did not discourage the snowballers. He paced in front of the Hummer, tolerating direct strikes with snowballs.

Okay, that's cool . . .

"When backup arrives, I'm having you -- and you -- and you -- and you -- arrested." He pointed to four individuals standing around me, all black males in their young 20s who seemed to be there together. He was not wearing a visible badge nor did he present one.

volksjager 20th-Dec-2009 01:23 am (UTC)
Those Ikea bags are the best. I wish they sold them.
tin_foil_hat 20th-Dec-2009 01:36 am (UTC)
They do here. You use the yellow ones in store and you can buy blue ones.
volksjager 20th-Dec-2009 01:39 am (UTC)
Cool. Does yours do breakfast too ?
tin_foil_hat 20th-Dec-2009 01:42 am (UTC)
They have some sort of food area, I've never bothered to go in it.
eponaschild 20th-Dec-2009 02:00 am (UTC)
Does your store have the new tiny blue ones? They are about the size of the average purse, so cute! I bought one for my son so he could carry all his must-have toys too and from the car.
tin_foil_hat 20th-Dec-2009 02:06 am (UTC)
I haven't seen tiny ones, but I also haven't been there for quite a few months
kapt_krunk 20th-Dec-2009 04:52 am (UTC)
You guys pay for yours? I get them free when I buy something, like when they bag them those or the big ones are our bags.. Unless there's a charge I don't know about and don't mind lol
granting 20th-Dec-2009 01:45 am (UTC)
Go ahead and cross post this to the washingtondc community.
littlestarletta 20th-Dec-2009 01:46 am (UTC)
spoontweet 20th-Dec-2009 02:12 am (UTC)
Requesting a "no war but snow war" photo if one exists
spoontweet 20th-Dec-2009 02:15 am (UTC)
ok, that's an awesome photo
sublate 20th-Dec-2009 02:32 am (UTC)

"They pull a snowball, you pull a gun. That's the DC way!"
sunshinedan 20th-Dec-2009 11:06 pm (UTC)
angry_chick 20th-Dec-2009 02:49 am (UTC)
Ain't that a bitch?
bludstone 20th-Dec-2009 06:43 am (UTC)
Pretty much typical. Bet the cop wont see any significant punishment at all.

Another angle. Watch the other cops not stop (and in fact, support!) the insane pig assaulting an innocent man.

This is why people say there are no good cops. If any of them were good cops, they would have dragged Tayler away from the crowd and talked him down out of his roid rage.
bludstone 20th-Dec-2009 06:47 am (UTC)
Guy should probably be in prison. If any of -us- emerged from our vehicle, gun drawn at a crowd after being hit by a snowball. We'd be arrested for it.
automat 20th-Dec-2009 07:52 am (UTC)
I'm more offended at the fact that they're playing in the dirty road-side snow. gross.
littlestarletta 20th-Dec-2009 07:53 am (UTC)
yeah they really should have picked a park or something... but there's not many/any parks in DC
cognicide 20th-Dec-2009 08:34 am (UTC)
ugh it looks like it was SO MUCH FUN too!
housom_baa 20th-Dec-2009 10:39 am (UTC)
Welcome to America, y'all.
wrestlingdog 20th-Dec-2009 02:15 pm (UTC)
People began to chant: "You don't bring a gun to a snowball fight!"

This made me LOL.
mistadynamitee Mad late as usual20th-Dec-2009 09:21 pm (UTC)
Ugh! I hate how DC apartments are so ridiculously expensive. Stuff like this never happens out in the suburbs.

I saw this on the news yesterday, and I'm not really sure what to think. Oh, brandishing a gun at a snowball fight is a bit much. It's just that I heard the officer was responding to a 911 call about a gun being sighted there, and once he saw that the gun belonged to a plainsclothed officer, he put it back in his holster. Also, it was reported that they were throwing snowballs at cars, including the Hummer.

Could it be ABC 7 was trying to frame the story to put the police in a more favorable light? *Kanye shrug* Still, if I recall, that is proper procedure if the officer is responding to a call about someone else with a gun.
juliet316 20th-Dec-2009 10:27 pm (UTC)
As I said in a post up page when I first heard about this: Way to overreact Mr. Officer.
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