Prosecutors in D.C. have declined to bring charges against most of the 41 people arrested in a disturbance in Adams Morgan last week that sparked a large police response and which authorities had characterized as a riot.
The arrests came in the early hours of Aug. 14 near the corner of Willard and 18th streets after protesters, who had gathered in Adams Morgan to march through the neighborhood, were surrounded by lines of police. There were reports of fires being set and some property damage recorded.
Shelia Miller, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C., would not say how many of the 41 cases the office was declining to prosecute.
“Most of these (cases) were no papered,” Miller said, using the term to describe when prosecutors decline to move forward with a case. “Beyond that, our office has no further comment.”
A search of D.C. Superior Court’s online records for all 41 people arrested by D.C. police — including the 37 people arrested on charges of felony rioting — turned up only one case that it appears prosecutors are still pursuing. (The list of people arrested published by D.C. police includes a “John Doe” and a “Jane Doe.”)
Cassidy Ketchem, 25, has been charged with assaulting a police officer, a misdemeanor.
In charging documents filed in D.C. Superior Court, police provided only a brief description of what happened leading up to the arrest of Ketchem and the others.
The charging documents refer to one of the protesters as D2, which appears to be a reference to Ketchem, walking “in an aggressive and hysterical manner” on 18th Street. The person “engaged with officials” at the scene and then “proceeded to breach the police line, lift up the tape and appeared to pick an object up off the ground.”
According to the documents, an officer who chased that protester received arm injuries at some point, but the charging documents do not say specifically how the injuries were sustained.
The charging documents also say Ketchem “refused to comply with officers commands and resisted arrest.”
Ketchem’s attorney, Greg Lipper, called the charges “baseless” and “baffling.”
“My client not only didn’t assault anyone, let alone a police officer, but she was herself roughed up by several law enforcement officers,” he said in a phone interview with WTOP.
Lipper said Ketchem was taken to the hospital after she was arrested and treated for her injuries.
“She was left injuries as a result of the encounter,” he said. “How that is being charged with assault on a police officer is beyond me.”
In the charging documents, police said another person threw a water bottle at officers and then tried to bite an officer’s hand while being handcuffed, but the officer moved his hand out of the way.
Earlier Monday, District officials provided details about the force the city used during their response, acknowledging police officers used pepper spray during the arrest.
“From what I understand, there was the deployment of pepper spray by officers as officers were in the process of making arrests,” D.C. Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Kevin Donahue said during a news conference Monday with Mayor Muriel Bowser.
Donahue said police also intentionally surrounded and corralled the group of protesters, a controversial tactic known as “kettling.”
Donahue added that the 41 people arrested were part of “a group that seemed to police to be intent to set things on fire and destroy things.”
A list of the 41 people arrested published by D.C. police shows four people were arrested on charges of assaulting a police officer; the remaining 37 were arrested under D.C.’s felony Riot Act.
Donahue said there were “at least 15 examples of private property that was defaced,” and he said there were at least five fires set.
Photos released by police last week show what appears to be a traffic sign set on fire, a burned trash can and part of a wall tagged with the graffiti “Gentrifiers live here.”
“We weren’t responding to a peaceful protest,” Bowser said. “We were responding to people who were unpeaceful and protesting and demonstrating rioting behavior. And so that behavior will not be tolerated.”
Donahue said the city is reviewing the police tactics and the officers’ use of force, which he said is routine. The police response to the disturbance was captured on police body cameras.
Earlier Monday, Donahue said police were still reviewing the body camera footage to “see if we can piece together enough after-action evidence to be able to more successfully pursue charges.” He did not commit to releasing the body camera footage.