Ex-Georgetown ANC acquitted in threat to shoot restaurant owner

Former Georgetown Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Bill Starrels has been found not guilty of threatening to kill the owner of a Middle Eastern restaurant in D.C.

Starrels had maintained his innocence since he was arrested for an incident that happened May 24, 2019, at Charcoal Town Hookah and Shawarma on 31st Street NW.

He was charged with one count of “attempted threats to do bodily harm,” a misdemeanor.

In charging documents, restaurant owner Bashar Mehiar said Starrels entered the restaurant “and was very irate, complaining of noise and loud talk coming from within the restaurant.”

According to prosecutors, Starrels told Mehiar: “I am going to shoot you, your customers and the Muslims standing outside.”

During a bench trial before D.C. Superior Court, however, Judge John Ramsey Johnson heard argument from the defense that police body worn camera video of the responding officer showed Mehiar fabricated the threat.

Defense attorney Joseph Gonzalez argued that when the officer arrived, the restaurant owner made no mention of any threat and was only angry that Starrels was complaining about the noise.

The owner told police Starrels had been asked several times in the past not to return to the restaurant “due to his harassing behavior.”

According to the defense, the officer told Mehiar several times that a noise complaint didn’t merit a police report, and repeatedly asked the owner if a threat had been made. Eventually, Mehiar said Starrels threatened his life.

The judge was not convinced and found Starrels not guilty.

“Although Mr. Starrels never wavered in his belief that he would achieve a full acquittal, the public nature of these false allegations made them particularly painful,” Gonzalez told WTOP. “He is grateful for the steadfast support of his family, friends and the Georgetown community.”

Starrels said he is “pleased that justice prevailed.”

He was an ANC commissioner from 2000 through 2017, when he was defeated in an election.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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