Pentagon officer charged in Takoma Park shooting accused of assault for separate incident

Takoma Park Police Chief Antonio DeVaul speaks at a news conference Friday. (Courtesy Takoma Park police)

Takoma Park police have charged the off-duty Pentagon Force Protection Agency officer they say shot and killed two men Wednesday morning in Montgomery County, Maryland. The officer has also been charged for an alleged assault that happened last year.

David Hall Dixon, of Takoma Park, has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of use of a handgun in commission of a felony and reckless endangerment in the killing of Dominique Williams, 32, of Hyattsville, Maryland, and James Lionel Johnson, 38, of District Heights, Maryland.

Police said both men had gunshot wounds in their upper backs.

Dixon also faces an attempted second-degree murder charge in the assault of the driver of the vehicle he shot into. Police said the driver will not be charged.

“Our investigation revealed that Mr. Dixon’s overview [of] events was inconsistent with the facts in the case. And that Mr. Dixon had no lawful or justifiable reason to shoot and kill Mr. Williams and Mr. Johnson,” Takoma Park Police Chief Antonio DeVaul said at a news conference.

He added that Dixon “was a civilian who acted as a civilian who happened to be a law enforcement officer in another jurisdiction” and that authorities don’t believe he has any law enforcement powers in Maryland.

DeVaul said police don’t want people to take action.

“We want our citizens to be our eyes and ears, but to call us to be good witnesses, not intercede themselves, I would highly encourage any of our residents that encounter criminal activity to call us and allow us to handle the situation.”

Dixon has also been charged with first and second-degree assault and use of a firearm in a violent crime for his alleged assault against a woman last year.

Takoma Park police recently became aware of a video circulating showing Dixon pointing a shotgun at a woman’s face. It happened on May 6, 2020 at a building on New Hampshire Avenue.

Police were called to the area for a report of a woman swinging sticks at people in the lobby. Dixon told officers that the woman swung an object at him and his dog. He said he went back to his residence to get pepper spray and his weapon and that he pepper sprayed the woman, a news release said.

Police found the woman at a parking lot and said that she was pepper sprayed. Neither the woman nor Dixon told police that a gun was used. Police said the woman was in “mental crisis” and was transported for an emergency evaluation.

Police also did not observe Dixon with a gun during the interview, and they said he went back to the apartment before police arrived. Dixon said he did not want to press charges against the woman.

Takoma Park police said they informed Pentagon Protection Force Police over the May 6, 2020 incident.

“The Takoma Park Police Department was never made aware, by statements made my Mr. Dixon or anyone else, of the use of the shotgun by Mr. Dixon, nor was the department aware that any video of the incident existed. We became aware of the video [Friday],” the department said in a statement.

Dixon was arrested Friday morning without incident. His bond hearing is scheduled for Monday.

Johnson’s family members spoke at their own news conference Friday. It was hosted by the lawyers representing the family.

His cousin, Marcus Kornegay, said, “He treated everyone that crossed this path with love and respect. Like they were family.”

Kornegay added that the gun violence and excessive violence from police officers has been “hitting really close to home for our family.” He said the family looks forward to getting justice for Johnson’s death.

Johnson’s girlfriend and the mother of his child who’s still under a year old, who only went by her first name, Janae, spoke after Kornegay.

“He always loved to entertain people, learn to be the life of the party and start the party, and, you know, show people that we can do better as a community,” Janae said.

Last to speak was Johnson’s relative, Lakeisha Johnson, who said, “Anything you ever needed from him, he was there. He was just a phone call away. And he will truly be missed.”

At about 5 a.m. Wednesday, Takoma Park police responded to a report of gunshots in the parking lot of the Takoma Overlook Condominiums, in the 7300 block of New Hampshire Avenue. When they got there, the police said in a statement, Dixon, who was off duty at the time, told them he had seen what he thought was a car being broken into and “engaged the suspects.”

“We have confirmed that the victims involved and the other individual involved were actually breaking into vehicles,” DeVaul said.

When the people tried to drive away, Dixon fired at them. Shortly afterward, Williams and Johnson arrived at the hospital with gunshot wounds and died from their injuries, police said.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich called the shooting “really, really troubling” during an online briefing Thursday.

“You can’t shoot people for property crimes,” Elrich said. “You can’t do that.” The county executive pointed out that as a Pentagon officer, “He had no authority in Montgomery County.”

And given that the only accusation against the two men is breaking into cars, “The idea that he drew his gun rather than pick up his cellphone and call the police is very troubling.”

WTOP’s Rick Massimo, Matthew Delaney and Hannah Parker contributed to this report.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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