Police: Pr. George's cops shot BBs at evidence
One had lost his police powers after he was accused of sending inappropriate text messages to a 19-year-old woman whose criminal complaint he was investigating. The other turned in his gun and badge after he was accused of punching a college student outside a party in Beltsville.
As with many Prince George's County police officers accused of misdeeds, the two were assigned to work in the property warehouse while internal affairs investigators probed their cases. It didn't stop them from getting into more trouble.
Last month, Officers Matthew Inzeo, the accused texter, and Dominique Richardson, the accused puncher, were transferred to the telephone reporting unit, assigned to take reports of misdemeanor crimes for which there is no suspect information, county officials said. The reason for their move: the two were using airsoft and BB guns to shoot at boxes of seized property, they said.
"There's another investigation that's been opened, so they face further disciplinary action," said Maj. Andrew Ellis, the public affairs commander for the Prince George's department. "It's the most childish, ridiculous thing you can think of. These are supposed to be professional police officers."
Ellis said it appears that Inzeo and Richardson did not damage anything of critical evidentiary value. They were assigned to an area of the property warehouse with bulkier items and were not allowed access to any firearms or drugs, he said. Many of the projectiles they fired did not even pierce the boxes, he said. They did, however, shoot holes in the screens of a confiscated slot machine and an ADT security monitor, he said.
Inzeo and Richardson already had been placed on paid administrative duties for the previous accusations. Richardson allegedly punched a college student while he was moonlighting as a security guard at a party in Beltsville in October, and Inzeo was accused in November of sending sexually explicit text messages to a 19-year-old woman whose identity-theft complaint he was investigating. Ellis said investigators are continuing to probe those cases.
In the more recent incident, Ellis said, investigators believe the two shot the boxes in a half-hour while they were unsupervised. He said investigators are still working to document all the damage, and they have not yet interviewed Richardson or Inzeo.
Richardson and Inzeo did not return phone and e-mail messages seeking comment.
Ellis said Richardson and Inzeo will face even more rigorous supervision in the telephone reporting unit. He said the allegations are not considered crimes, so the officers were put on desk duty with pay. It makes sense, even now, to have them work while their cases are being investigated.
"We have to pay these employees anyway, and so it's in the public interest to try to get some work out of them," Ellis said.
Matt Zapotosky and Mary Pat Flaherty
| January 27, 2011; 2:08 PM ET
Categories: Internal Affairs, Mary Pat Flaherty, Matt Zapotosky, Pr. George's
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