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Parents sue Capitol Police in shooting

Washington Post Editors

The parents of a Fort Washington man shot and killed by police just blocks from the U.S. Capitol in July 2009 have filed a wrongful death suit in federal court in the District seeking $50 million in compensatory damages from U.S. Capitol Police.

Kellen A. White, then 27, was shot at least 12 times after an apparent traffic stop went awry in the 400 block of Second Street NE shortly after 5 p.m. July 15, 2009, according to the suit filed by Leroy and Thomasine White.

U.S. Capitol Police claimed at the time that White sped away from the stop in his white, 1999 Mercedes Benz, nearly hit two officers, crashed into a police cruiser and fired at officers with a compact, pistol-like assault weapon.

However, his family alleged in the suit that “at no time during the events” was “White armed with any weapon, nor was he a threat to the safety of himself or others. He had not committed any criminal offenses.” They said that to their knowledge, “White complied with the commands of the officer initiating the stop within the limits of his control.”

The incident occurred about a block from the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, a U.S. Capitol Police spokeswoman, said the agency would not comment on pending litigation.

By Spencer S. Hsu  |  September 2, 2010; 4:48 PM ET
Categories:  Spencer S. Hsu , The District  
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Comments

His family alleged in the suit that at no time during the events was “White armed with any weapon, nor was he a threat to the safety of himself or others. He had not committed any criminal offenses.”

Either the original story was completely false and a coverup by the police department or the family is blowing smoke and hoping for a sizable pre-trial settlement from the District.

I would guess that the shooting had been deemed justified. The events as stated by the family flys in the face of the orignal investgation.

Posted by: Jimof1913 | September 2, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Was the family in the car? If not, I don't know how they think they know the events of that day.

I doubt the US Capitol Police would needlessly open fire on an innocent person in broad daylight at rush hour so close to the Capitol. It doesn't add up.

Posted by: pluperfectdc | September 2, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

The Capitol Police are second only the Arlington Cemetery Police in unprofessional conduct. Essentially, all these police forces do is bark at tourists, and there is no one who is easier to direct than a tourist.

Posted by: blasmaic | September 2, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

blasmaic:

What is your statement based upon? Having lived in DC for more than 13 years, I have found the Capitol Police to be very professional and some of the best police I have come across in DC.

Tourists are not easy to direct - this comes from someone who worked overseas in another world capital in a role that directed tourists - and I assure you, they are handful.

I would lean towards believing the police officers over the stories of the family of the deceased. I seriously doubt the police would have shot someone 12 times if he was not doing anything truly criminal.

Posted by: AutumnBanter | September 2, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Will the parents sue Maryland for that state's prior drug and gun convictions of their P.O.S. son?

http://casesearch.courts.state.md.us

Maybe they should sue themselves for negligent parenting?

Posted by: confounded | September 2, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Jimof1913 said: "Either the original story was completely false and a coverup by the police department or the family is blowing smoke and hoping for a sizable pre-trial settlement from the District."

Everything is true, except that if the family does get a settlement it won't be from the District. The U.S. Capitol Police are federal officers and therefore the U.S. government is liable, not the District.

Posted by: alewis4 | September 2, 2010 11:34 PM | Report abuse

AutumnBanter, the simple fact that he was shot 12 times is an indicator that the police completely lost control of themselves.

Tourists who come to Washington want only to visit their congressmen and experience the seige of America's war against the dirt-floor shack terrorists. They are the easiest people on earth to cow for someone with a gun and a badge.

The only place where tourists will act more deferential to authority than the Capitol is at Arlington National Cemetery. A cop who can't intimidate a tourist on Capitol Hill can only work where tourists don't know how to act with respect for political authority or for the dead -- Arlington.

Posted by: blasmaic | September 3, 2010 5:57 AM | Report abuse

Read the linked original story. This thug committed a long list of felonies such as shooting at officers with a MAC-11, hitting an officer with his car, crashing into multiple cars. This is total bs by the family hoping to get some cash.

Posted by: buffysummers | September 3, 2010 7:42 AM | Report abuse

@Blasmaic--

I'm not commenting on your opinion, just have a question:

When did Arlington get police? I worked there for eight years and have never seen a dedicated police department. Security, yes. MPs from Fort Myer, yes. ANC Police? No.

Posted by: thepryde | September 3, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Guy crawled out of his window with a sub-machine gun and fired a round off as well at the police..

You shoot to eliminate the threat and 12 shots worked perfectly for that.

Lets not mention the several motorcycle officers he tried to run over and the 2 cars that were totaled when he crashed into them trying to get away.

POS got what he deserved...maybe his parent should get same thing for raising a complete dirt bag

Posted by: bigpimpin1970 | September 3, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Guy crawled out of his window with a sub-machine gun and fired a round off as well at the police..

You shoot to eliminate the threat and 12 shots worked perfectly for that.

Lets not mention the several motorcycle officers he tried to run over and the 2 cars that were totaled when he crashed into them trying to get away.

POS got what he deserved...maybe his parent should get same thing for raising a complete dirt bag

Posted by: bigpimpin1970 | September 3, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

I was there that day meeting some friends and I did not see what you described. He was aggressive, but i never saw a gun or heard any shots before the police shot. He acted irresponsibly, but to the extent of being shot 12 times and killed, I don't think so. I hope you never make that mistake and people say the same ignorant things about you.

Posted by: bobby31 | September 3, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

The family is going to have a very difficult time proving their side. None of them were there. I would suspect that the Capital Police, like any other police force, would have had an Internal Affairs investigation after the shooting. Regardless of what conspiracy theorists think, IA doesn't mess around. If the cops were cleared, I'm more inclined to believe White did the crime.

Posted by: akchild | September 3, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Pathetic. Trying to cash-in on their son's death. How do they know what happened? They weren't there. There hoping for a "quilt" pay-off. Twelve shots are simply too many in an unprovoked shooting.

Posted by: jckdoors | September 3, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Arlington Cemetery has its own police? That's weird.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | September 3, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Though it may seem harsh to say so, the fact is the world is a marginally safer and better place without Kellen White. And unless the plaintiffs can adduce real evidence that contradicts the police account of this tragic incident, their lawsuit should be promptly dismissed with prejudice in order to save taxpayers the expense of a trial. Raising a chemically imbalanced menace to society entitles no one to a multimillionaire's life of luxury.

Posted by: HenryPotter | September 3, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

The US Park police fired 12 rounds at a guy because he was just minding his own business or helping little old ladies across the street?
"U.S. Capitol Police claimed at the time that White sped away from the stop in his white, 1999 Mercedes Benz, nearly hit two officers, crashed into a police cruiser and fired at officers with a compact, pistol-like assault weapon."
Oh wait...I guess I was wrong and since the police were there and his family wasn't I'm going to go with the police department's version.

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | September 3, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

He nearly killed two cops on motorcycles..was driving at high speed near the capitol...crashed into two parked cars..then produced a SUB MACHINE GUN!!

12 shots is fine by me..

this dude ain't worth 50 cents let alone 50 million..

I'm sure there's a reason their "lawyer" is a solo-practioner.

Posted by: taburd02 | September 3, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

have to keep the bottom feeders busy in da city protecting all the thugs.where did this one get a mac?

Posted by: pofinpa | September 3, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Now THIS is one I'd have expected Sharpton to be in on...guess there aren't as many cameras as last week so he isn't interested.

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | September 3, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I was there that day meeting some friends and I did not see what you described. He was aggressive, but i never saw a gun or heard any shots before the police shot. He acted irresponsibly, but to the extent of being shot 12 times and killed, I don't think so. I hope you never make that mistake and people say the same ignorant things about you.

Posted by: bobby31 | September 3, 2010 9:16 AM
........................................


hence the reason I will call BS to your version or you weren't exactly as close as you want people to believe you were.

1. Since you were so close,did you give witness statements to police?

2. Did you not see the gun laying on ground within arms reach of his dead body?

3. Since you were so close and saw it all..do tell us how he got of his car with the gun??? curious cause his drivers side doors were pinned shut by a police car and the passenger doors were smashed from him ramming the parked cars....so do explain his mystical powers of exiting the vehicle???

4.Exactly how many times do you shoot somebody that shot at you and has a gun???

lastly...I stand by my comment of good ridance to the POS and i certainly know my family wouldn't file some BS bogus lawsuit to try to collect money if I was some complete worthless POS that did what he did...you know why??? cause he got what he deserved for being a dumbass

Posted by: bigpimpin1970 | September 3, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I forgot....with all the camera's around that wholearea I'd almost guarentee the whole thing is on video as well

Posted by: bigpimpin1970 | September 3, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I interact with the U.S. Capitol Police on a daily basis as a civilian and I can confidently say there is not a more professional police force in this area than USCP. They are by far the best trained and best educated uniformed officers in the DC area.

Posted by: theguapo | September 3, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Regarding the Capitol Police, as James Brown once said, "Papa don't take no mess". Its obvious to anyone who spends any amount of time on The Hill that these guys take front-line duty in the "war on terror" very seriously. They are trained and conditioned to respond to imminent threats swiftly.

This is not a case of PG County cops going all Dodge City on some punk with an attitude and I can't see his family's suit succeeding.

I've always felt that White was a dumb-a#* who unfortunately decided to pull crap in the wrong place. Did he deserve being shot 12 times? No; but that's the penalty for being stupid in a high security area.

Posted by: nonsensical2001 | September 3, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

blasmaic wrote:
"...the simple fact that he was shot 12 times is an indicator that the police completely lost control of themselves"

As a person who has served in combat I can tell you first hand that when faced with a sub-machine gun firing bullets at you at 100 bullets a minute he don't fire off one round and wait to see the results. You fire and continue to fire until YOU feel you are safe. You don't even notice how many bullets you fire until your gun runs out of ammo and stops firing. In the heat of the moment you can eject the empty magazine, insert another one and continue to fire without thinking about it.

Posted by: Jimof1913 | September 3, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

blasmaic wrote:
"...the simple fact that he was shot 12 times is an indicator that the police completely lost control of themselves"

As a person who has served in combat I can tell you first hand that when faced with a sub-machine gun firing bullets at you at 100 bullets a minute he don't fire off one round and wait to see the results. You fire and continue to fire until YOU feel you are safe. You don't even notice how many bullets you fire until your gun runs out of ammo and stops firing. In the heat of the moment you can eject the empty magazine, insert another one and continue to fire without thinking about it. If you are a soldier or a police officer you are trained so that it becomes automatic.

Posted by: Jimof1913 | September 3, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Jimof1913, the lawsuit asserts that there was no gun, and Capitol Hill is not a combat zone. In fact, it is illegal to carry a gun in Washington, DC.

Posted by: blasmaic | September 3, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

The Arlington County Police Department was created in 1940.

--------------------
When did Arlington get police? I worked there for eight years and have never seen a dedicated police department. Security, yes. MPs from Fort Myer, yes. ANC Police? No.

Posted by: thepryde | September 3, 2010 7:56 AM

Posted by: buffysummers | September 3, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Regarding police at Arlington National Cemetery (not Arlington County) -- there is no such thing. There are "gate guards" who direct visitors. Fort Myer MPs have no authority in the Cemetery unless there is a situation at the Tomb of the Unknowns, certain situations when all law enforcement is called upon to assist, and when a top ranking official (such as a President) will be in the Cemetery.

U.S. Park Police have jurisdiction at the Cemetery.

Posted by: TommyMcGuire | September 3, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I don't think even the Capitol Police could concoct a story that elaborate and not use real facts. Just the location of the original stop and the final stop belie the "facts" from the family. I am sorry for their loss but it was his choice to confront authority that way.

Posted by: pjohn2 | September 3, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

@blasmaic:

Yeah. It's illegal to carry a gun in DC unless you're legally authorized to (for example police :-) ). You'll observe how many gun-related crimes still occur in DC, gun control laws notwithstanding...

Posted by: wrs4 | September 3, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

The police fabricating a story to justify their actions? Hardly unheard of.

Remember the initial party-line from the Oakland PD about Oscar Grant? Before the YouTube videos came out?

Here in DC, remember the denials from the Assistant Police Chief that any police officer had drawn a gun at a snowball fight? Then the YouTube videos came out.

Where are the videos of this incident?

Posted by: kcx7 | September 3, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

To all of the people posting comments regarding this being unjustified please look the case up. This was captured on the police cars video. It so easy to point the finger at the big bad police. This guy also altered the temp tag on his car which was why he was pulled over in the first place. To the parents of the drug dealing, cop shooting POS get a job and stop blaming everyone else because you raised a low life. You don't get 50 mil for that you should be sterilized.


Posted by: nickatnight69 | September 3, 2010 11:33 PM | Report abuse

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