Video: Cop brings gun to snowball fight

  1. Closed captioning of: Cop brings gun to snowball fight

    >>> a day. meredith, over to you.

    >>> a lot of people took time this weekend to enjoy all the snow here in the east. but things got out of hand during a snowball fight in the nation's capital. natalie morales is back with that story.

    >> well it all started off as a massive organized event for young adults , but one when snowball hit a passerby's suv things got heated and now an off-duty police officer has been placed on desk duty. don't bring a gun to a snowball fight was the chant from hundreds of young adults at a snowball fight gone terribly wrong.

    >> throw another snowball. throw another snowball.

    >> after snowballs slammed this red hummer, the man outside got out and as you can see, drew a gun.

    >> at first it was unclear that he was affiliated with law enforcement at all. so people were just kind of confused and said, he's got a gun, he's got a gun and people started freaking out.

    >> temperatures flared in the freezing temperatures as yet another snowball pelted the man. an off-duty detective, in the face.

    >> get back up on the curb!

    >> uniformed officers soon arrived on the scene.

    >> a uniformed police officer came on to the scene and he also had his gun drawn. because he had gotten reports that there was a man there with you know, an armed man. and he didn't realize it was a plainclothes detective.

    >> once police realized it was one of their own with a gun. they put their own guns away. and while no shots were fired, strong words were exchanged between the detective and the crowd.

    >> on the curb.

    >> the incident captured on tape by reason tv, which was on the scene because there had been a viral call to action on the internet for a good, old-fashioned snowball fight . a snowball fight that is now drawing a crowd on the internet because it clearly got out of hand. well at first police denied the off- duty officer had pulled out a gun, but they now say they're investigating the case in light of new information. there's no denying what you see on that video.

    >> it's on the videotape, exactly.

    >> it's obvious, such a shame such a fun weekend for a lot of people --

    >> fortunately it could have been really unfortunately. natalie, naunk very

updated 12/21/2009 8:08:09 PM ET 2009-12-22T01:08:09

The city's police chief slammed a veteran detective Monday for pulling a gun during a mass snowball fight that had been advertised on Twitter.

Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier said she watched video clips from the confrontation and has no doubt the off-duty detective pulled his gun after snowballs hit his personal car 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 after the videos made the rounds on YouTube. "In no way should he have handled the situation in this manner."

Lanier said the detective, whom she did not identify, did not deny the accusations. He is on desk duty until an investigation is complete.

Hundreds of people gathered for the snowball fight on a major street after organizers used social networks such as Twitter to advertise it.

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 he pulled his gun because he was hit by snowballs.

At one point, the crowd begins to chant: "Don't bring a gun to a snowball fight!"

Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham told reporters Monday that the detective's badge and weapon have been withdrawn. He said the detective has more than 25 years of experience and a good reputation.

Newsham said the internal affairs division wants to complete its investigation as quickly as possible.

"We have to put the whole incident into context," he said.

There could be a recommendation to discipline the detective, which could range from a reprimand to removal, he said.

Image: Snowball fight in Washington
Pablo Martinez Monsivais  /  AP
A group takes part in a snowball fight at the intersection of 14th and U Streets during a snow storm in D.C. on Saturday.
Police have at least two videos of the incident, and Newsham said there could be more as the footage shows other people with cell phones and cameras. Police are working to obtain any additional material and will continue to speak to witnesses. He asked people to contact police if they have more footage.

There were no arrests, he said.

The videos also show a uniformed police officer holding his gun by his side before holstering it. Police said in a statement Sunday that he was responding to a call about an armed man, acted appropriately and did not point his weapon at anyone.

Newsham praised the work of other officers who arrived at the scene and de-escalated the situation.

He called the incident "very disappointing."

"It does bring a negative light" on the department, he said, and detracts from the work of hundreds of officers who helped people in the snow and directed traffic.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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