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Posted at 2:08 PM ET, 02/17/2011

Cop not guilty in hotel assault

By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post editors

A U.S. Capitol Police officer who was charged with pointing his gun at two members of a Michigan family after he and the tourists had mistakenly been given the same hotel room at National Harbor was found not guilty of assault charges on Thursday.

Prince George's County Circuit Court Judge James P. Salmon acquitted Victor E. Bryant, 37, of multiple counts of first- and second-degree assault in connection with the Aug. 14, 2009, incident at the Hampton Inn in National Harbor. Salmon also acquitted Bryant's girlfriend, Angela Montgomery, 29, who was charged with two counts of second-degree assault.

Bryant and Montgomery had waived their right to a jury trial in favor of a bench trial.

"It was the correct outcome," said attorney Theresa L. Moore, who defended Bryant and Montgomery.

In her closing argument, Moore said that the testimony of her clients was more credible than the testimony of state witnesses.

The case was prosecuted by Jason Knight, an assistant state's attorney in Baltimore. Prince George's prosecutors referred the case to avoid a conflict of interest because Assistant State's Attorney C.T. Wilson was summoned to the scene by a hotel worker and was a potential witness.

In a previous interview, Bryant said he and Montgomery checked into a room on the 11th floor of the hotel around 6 p.m. The couple planned to attend a concert, and because they might be drinking, they decided to get a room and spend the night rather than drive home. Bryant and Montgomery live in Charles County.

Bryant testified at trial that he placed his service weapon under a mattress because he knew he would be drinking, and did not want to make any bad decisions while he had a gun. Bryant testified he was also worried about pickpockets who might be in the crowd at the concert.

After Bryant and Montgomery went out for the evening, a hotel worker assigned their room to members of a family from Michigan who were in the Washington area for a family gathering.The officer and his girlfriend learned their room was occupied when they returned, sometime between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m., according to trial testimony. The key worked, but the door was latched.

Raymond Day, 52, one of members of the Michigan family, testified that Bryant and Montgomery then returned to the room with a hotel employee, and Day said he unlatched the door. Bryant barged in and retrieved his gun from under the mattress, Day testified.

Montgomery also barged in and immediately began screaming racial epithets at him, his sister, and another family member who was in the room, Day testified. The Day family is black. Bryant and Montgomery are white. Day said Montgomery later charged him and began hitting him in the chest. Day tried to block her blows, and warned that if she didn't stop, he would knock her out, he testified.

At that point, Day testified, Bryant put the gun to his temple and said, "Man, I will blow you away."

Matthew Golden, the hotel worker who went into the room, testified that Bryant pointed his gun at Day's head. Golden also testified that when he stepped in between the two men, Bryant briefly pointed at his head.

Bryant testified that he never pointed his gun at anyone. "Absolutely not," Bryant testified.

Bryant testified that Capitol Police officials suspended him for five days without pay for improperly securing his weapon. Bryant also was put on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the criminal charges.

By Ruben Castaneda  | February 17, 2011; 2:08 PM ET
Categories:  Pr. George's, Ruben Castaneda  
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Comments

Another example of preference for "police" testimony, even when they are the perpetrators of violence. I hope the POTUS fires this guy, as I sure wouldn't want him guarding me or mine. Racist, ugly, idiot.

Posted by: trackerinblue | February 17, 2011 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I knew it this was going to happen. Sad!

Posted by: PublicEnemy1 | February 17, 2011 2:37 PM | Report abuse

HOW could this man have been acquitted?!?! Police: always "innocent", even when guilty!

Posted by: sigmagrrl | February 17, 2011 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Seems to me a cop would try to find out why the room was occupied by someone else before pointing a gun at someones head.Sounds to me like this police officer and his friend both lied.Other witnesses said he did point the gun.He does not belong on any police force with the actions he took.Sounds like he did not use police pocedure in this case.

Posted by: bennie1 | February 17, 2011 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I see the woman was also a police officer and she should be fired alongh with him.If both hyad asked the hotel about it the whole thing wouldf have been avoided.Both sound like friends of mine where the man became a police officer and a good one I might add but his wife thought everyone had to kiss up to her because she was a policers officers wife LOL

Posted by: bennie1 | February 17, 2011 2:47 PM | Report abuse

This just infuriates me. Even the hotel employee testified the cop pointed his gun at the family. We give these men far too much benefit of the doubt when it comes to using their weapon.

Posted by: mercredi | February 17, 2011 3:24 PM | Report abuse

This is complete injustice. This cop has to be sentenced and punished His acts are unjustifiable by any means. How the judge acquitted this guy.

Posted by: hneama | February 17, 2011 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Most of the people that read WAPO aren't smart enough to conceptualize on what really happened here. This is reverse racism in it's finest. When you have 4 people who are "victims" unable to testify and provide the SAME version of what events took place, their credibility is the only thing that can be questioned. Questioning that credibility is what the judge did, thus the acquittal. Some States attorney (CT Wilson) made a race issue where the officers on the scene initially failed to find probable cause to even arrest. The Court system already dismissed this case once and during an election year Mr. Wilson (who is now a State Representative) found a cause that would invite ignorant raw emotion to help his campaign. So before everyone on here takes up arms and immediately jumps to the white cop getting off against the black folk, please get a better understanding of the facts. Charges were filed, a Court did here the case, and the "wronged" failed to tell the truth. It's not what you know it's what you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. If you don't like the system please move to another country.

As a black man and a friend to this cop I don't dismiss for one second the words of his 'dumas' girlfriend. What does pis me off is the fact that a black states attorney used the race card to further his political career. Yes Obama is in the White House but it is self-defeating situations like these that keep us in the plantation. Black people want to be upset about something, be upset that you have been played on by one of your own.

Posted by: dcs_unique11 | February 17, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse

@dcs_unique11

Before you insult the intelligence of anyone else, you may wish to check your post for spelling and grammatical errors.

"As a black man and a friend to this cop I don't dismiss for one second the words of his 'dumas' girlfriend."

So as this officer's friend, you're admitting that his girlfriend did, in fact, spew racial slurs at this family?

And what does Obama have to do with this alleged incident? Methinks it's individuals such as yourself who are keeping us on the "plantation," Uncle Ruckus. Find some new friends.

Posted by: InterestedReader3 | February 17, 2011 4:46 PM | Report abuse

You have a room in a hotel. You leave for the evening. When you return the door is latched. That means someone had to have a key to the room to get in. So what do you do? You go to the lobby desk and tell them. They should have then checked their system to see who was assigned to the room. If you were assigned to the room they should then go with you to the room, explain the situation to the people in the room. The officer's female friend thought it was appropiate to hit the man in the room and the male officer didn't tell the people in the room that he was a police office instead he pointed his gun at them AND the hotel employee.

Judge Salmon apparently thinks pointing a gun at unarmed citizens who pose no danger to you is OK if you are the police. No wonder the policeman and his lady friend asked for a bench trial.

I think I will stay out of National Harbor for now. Being Black I don't want to be mistaken for a dangerous person.

Posted by: Jimof1913 | February 17, 2011 6:27 PM | Report abuse

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