WASHINGTON – Washington's police chief criticized a veteran detective Monday for pulling a gun during a mass snowball fight. Authorities said the officer is on desk duty while the case is under investigation.
Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier said she had watched video clips from the weekend confrontation and has no doubt that the off-duty officer pulled his gun after snowballs hit his personal vehicle during Saturday's record snowfall.
"Let me be very clear in stating that I believe the actions of the officer were totally inappropriate!" Lanier said in a statement. "In no way should he have handled the situation in this manner."
Hundreds of people were gathered for the snowball fight on a major street during Saturday's snowstorm.
"It is very obvious to me that the officer pulled his service weapon in response to the snowballs hitting his vehicle. I have no doubt about this, nor has the officer denied the accusations," said Lanier.
One video posted on YouTube showed a man holding what appears to be a gun in the snowy street. Another video shows the same man telling people he is "Detective Baylor" and that he pulled his gun because he was hit by snowballs.
Videos also show a uniformed police officer holding his gun by his side before holstering it again. Police said in a statement Sunday that the uniformed policeman was there in response to a call about an armed man, acted appropriately and did not point his weapon at anyone.
Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham told reporters Monday that the detective has been placed on desk duty and his badge and weapon have been withdrawn. He did not identify the officer but described him as a veteran detective with more than 25 years of experience.
"He has a very good reputation," he said.
There could be a recommendation to discipline the detective, which could range from a reprimand to removal, he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.