Assault and battery charges have been dropped against a former D.C. official who was accused of grabbing another man by the neck in an Arlington, Virginia, gym parking lot.
Online court records confirm that prosecutors dropped the charges against 53-year-old Chris Geldart, who was formerly the District’s deputy mayor for public safety and justice.
The Washington Post reports that the Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office asked a judge to dismiss the case during a brief hearing Tuesday morning. The request came after the prosecutor played video of a police interview in which a witness told police the other man was the aggressor in the incident.
The other man, Dustin Woodward, who originally filed the criminal complaint against Geldart, disagreed with the prosecutor’s decision to drop the case, according to media reports.
“When our office evaluates a case, we consider instead whether we can prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest standard of proof in our legal system,” Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti said in a statement to WTOP.
“A robust review of the case against Mr. Geldart was undertaken before the decision was made to decline further prosecution of the assault and battery charge. The Commonwealth concluded the charge could not be sustained and justice required dismissal.”
The Oct. 1 altercation in the gym parking lot was apparently sparked by a door ding.
Woodward said Geldart grabbed him by the throat during a dispute about Geldart’s car door hitting his car, according to a police statement. Part of the encounter was captured on surveillance video, which was obtained by Fox 5.
Questions were also raised about Geldart’s residency after a statement from Arlington police about the altercation listed Geldart as a resident of Falls Church, Virginia.
High-level mayoral appointees in D.C. are required to establish residency in the District to keep their jobs.
Geldart was placed on leave, and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser promised an investigation. About a week later, Bowser announced Geldart had resigned, saying that the charges and questions about Geldart’s residency were a distraction.
After the court hearing Tuesday, Geldart told a Fox5 reporter, “The way I presented myself that day is not who I am,” and he said going forward his focus was on “taking care of my family.”
WTOP’s Thomas Robertson contributed to this report.