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Posted at 5:40 PM ET, 12/19/2009

Police looking into incident at snowball fight

By Terri Rupar

UPDATE (10:57 p.m.) This YouTube video appears to show a confrontation with the detective. Warning: Contains strong language.

UPDATE (10.20 p.m.)The plainclothes D.C. police detective may have unholstered his pistol during the confrontation with participants in the huge snowball fight, based on video and photos posted on the Internet.

Original post: D.C. police are investigating an incident Saturday in which a plainclothes D.C. police detective engaged in a heated discussion with a group of snowball fighters, causing another D.C. patrol officer to approach with his gun drawn.

Assistant Chief Pete Newsham, who leads the department’s investigative services bureau, said it appears the patrol officer acted appropriately, and the worst the detective might have done is use inappropriate language in dealing with the snowball fighters.

The incident occurred Saturday afternoon near the intersection of 14th and U streets NW. That’s where a large group of people were engaged in a snowball fight.

At some point, Newsham said, the detective approached the group of snowball fighters and had “some kind of interaction” with them. He said the detective holstered a cellphone, and someone from the crowd called to report a man with a gun.

“He was armed but never pulls his weapon,” Newsham said of the detective. “I think what probably happens is somebody probably saw his gun and called the police.”

The patrol officer who responded to the call approached with his gun drawn, Newsham said, because he did not know the man with a gun was a D.C. detective. When he realized that, he quickly holstered his own weapon, Newsham said.

Newsham said it appears the patrol officer acted appropriately, but authorities are investigating what interaction the detective had with the snowball fighters. He declined to identify any of the officers involved.

There are multiple videos of the fight on YouTube, including this one.

--Matt Zapotosky and Martin Weil

By Terri Rupar  | December 19, 2009; 5:40 PM ET
Tags:  D.C., Washington, gun, officer pulls gun at snowball fight, police, snowball, snowball fight, snowball fight incident  
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Pretty soon, this is going to be A Serious Situation. Quit dicking us around. Where are the clear and reliable updates about which roads will be ploughed, which ones are going to be? That DPW site is for s. Where are the people asking the hard questions of our elected leaders about their intentions to plough? In DC? In Va?


Posted by: sugarstreet | December 19, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

to the only other post here, I have only one thing to say:

Lighten up Francis! LOL

Posted by: kevin812 | December 19, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Typical jack booted thug response by the DC Metropolitan detective...nothing more than a bunch of folks having fun in the snow on a weekend...and here comes Deputy Dawg brandishing his weapon so as to claim the position of armed authority among the revelers. Emergency, emergency...please to get from this street now...emergency! What is this? Russia, China, Iran? Thugs, just friggin' thugs...that's what our police are nowadays...thick-necked, buzz-cut thugs. What is it Mr. Detective...folks can't have some fun on a day when you have to work a few hours of overtime? Punk Cops...each of them, all of them.

Posted by: LouisianaVirginian | December 19, 2009 6:58 PM | Report abuse

It's "Frances." And yeah, I know I know. But it's still something to consider.

Posted by: sugarstreet | December 19, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm with kevin812. It's a flippin blizzard. Stay home, stay off the roads. Folks here don't know how to drive in snow anyway. Chill. They are called "snow emergency routes" for a reason. You should only be driving if it's an emergency. Going shopping or to a friend's house isn't an emergency. Leave the roadsw to ambiulances, fire trucks, police cars and plows right now. So relax, slow down, go for a walk, BUT STAY OFF THE ROADS.

Posted by: badger78 | December 19, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

I have to leave!!!!! Trust me I'd be in your camp otherwise.

Posted by: sugarstreet | December 19, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

WaPo journalists, please stick with this story and don't let police get away with what seems to be a false account of what happened. Photos clearly show the detective pulling out his weapon:

Posted by: jwind | December 19, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Assistant Chief Pete Newsham: This YouTube video has the detective admitting that he drew a gun because snowballs were thrown at him. Nice try at a cover up.

Posted by: claw83 | December 19, 2009 9:11 PM | Report abuse

“He was armed but never pulls his weapon,” Newsham said of the detective. “I think what probably happens is somebody probably saw his gun and called the police.”

This is an outright lie. There are numerous pictures from today that show clearly that Baylor intentionally took the gun out of his holster and brandished it at the crowd:

Posted by: timsalemme | December 19, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

the detective never identified himself either. It was a friendly snowball fight. The folks even stopped to help a police officer who got stuck. So, this was not a crowd with something against MPD. Until they had a gun pulled on them.

Posted by: epjd | December 19, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Matt Zapotosky you did a terrible job reporting this story and I hope your editor gives you a good talking to. The CityPaper has a better intell and photos which conclude that your source, Assistant Chief Pete Newsham, either lied to you or didn't have the whole story.

You got the story wrong and you apparently only got the "official" police version. I know it's a tough night to grab quotes but you got beat by the CityPaper.

Posted by: NewsCat-VA | December 19, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

The City Paper photos clearly show him with a gun out - flatly contradicting this article.

Those photos were online long before this article was posted - and on several of the local blogs.

Even worse - hours later, no correction and no follow up.

And the Post wonders why it suffers?

Posted by: i4647 | December 19, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

ah! now an update. Better than nothing, still far from good.

Now what are the odds they run the photo of the detective in tomorrow's print edition? Low.

Posted by: i4647 | December 19, 2009 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Matt Zapotosky what about going back to Assistant Chief Pete Newsham to ask him to comment on the photos when he told you "He was armed but never pulls his weapon." which is clearly not true. You have the DC spokesman on record lying or giving you information which is not true. Time for a follow-up?

Posted by: NewsCat-VA | December 19, 2009 10:47 PM | Report abuse

"May have"?! There are multiple eye-witness accounts of the weapon being pulled, and the Washington City Paper included photos of the plainclothes detective with his weapon drawn. I believe the source of the photos is here:

Posted by: jwind | December 19, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

If you pelt a random person's car (ahem, private property) with snowballs, what do you think is going to happen? Typical mob mentality: "Oh, we were just having fun, Officer!" We are talking about an expensive vehicle as well. Most of you would throw a hissy fit if I walked up to you at Starbucks and poured sugar on your laptop keyboard. And your laptop probably cost less than $1000.

The individuals in the crowd gambled that the person in the vehicle would not get out. They were wrong.

Snowball fight = harmless fun when all parties in the fight agree to participate.

If you were on the same street, deserted at 3 AM, and a Hummer drove by, and you were alone, would you consider hurling objects at the vehicle, not knowing who was inside? Would you maintain that your actions were legal, harmless, or safe?

Posted by: WashResident1 | December 19, 2009 11:02 PM | Report abuse

I was there and I have video of the gathering and an image of Detective Baylor with gun, who pulled it to scare the snowball throwers. Check it out:

Posted by: petew1 | December 19, 2009 11:05 PM | Report abuse

what a bunch of animals throwing snowballs at random people and cars...he should have shot them.

Posted by: minhle1 | December 19, 2009 11:13 PM | Report abuse

minhle1, it was a bunch of kids having fun with nothing else to do - don't tell me you never had a snowball fight when you were a kid.

Unless there is a clear threat of bodily harm to the officer, he should NEVER have pulled his gun. A civilian would be arrested so fast for doing the same.

PS - Snowballs are not deadly, last I checked.

Posted by: reiflame1 | December 19, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

I was there and I have video of the gathering and an image of Detective Baylor with gun, who pulled it to scare the snowball throwers. Check it out:

Posted by: petew1 | December 19, 2009 11:49 PM | Report abuse

It doesn't freaking matter if it was a million dollar vehicle, or ten million. There's no justification for pulling a gun on a crowd of people over a snowball. And if your car is worth that much to you that you would threaten people's lives over (at worst) a nick to the paintjob, then please keep it off the road (and get some professional help.)

Posted by: eyeswideopen2 | December 19, 2009 11:50 PM | Report abuse

I just hope this story doesn't get brushed to the side and not properly reported on. This shouldn't have happened, and there is nothing anyone can say to change that fact.

Posted by: pikamander007 | December 20, 2009 1:01 AM | Report abuse

This is a terrific local story, and the Post has been terribly outhustled by City Paper and many blogs.

I'm wondering how you will react to your slow start. Will you bury the story because it's not been yours? Or will you throw a few quality people into the fray, and try to advance the story?

Ignoring or burying this as a one day story that is old news will simply reinforce the growing belief that the Post really doesn't cover local news.

Take a glance at the dcist blog or the e-mails to City Paper on this story, Post Metro folks, and realize you're not the only game in town and you're steadily becoming less important and less relevant.

Posted by: observer9 | December 20, 2009 1:51 AM | Report abuse

WHY IS THIS STORY NOT ON THE HOMEPAGE? Why is it buried in a weather story with the most retarded headline imaginable? Police ended up at snowball fight? How about, "Officer pulls gun on crowd"? As much as I love the Post, man, you guys are blowing it...

Posted by: iamneevy | December 20, 2009 1:58 AM | Report abuse

iamneevy: why do you "love the Post"? The Post has amply demonstrated that they're not in the tiniest bit interested in any Metro news that involves challenging District institutions. At this point, for all its many faults, the City Paper is the paper of record when it comes to such topics. From the ongoing Pershing Park court cases to this past day's outrageous behavior, the Post couldn't care less.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | December 20, 2009 2:35 AM | Report abuse

Post definitely scooped by the City Paper on this one.

Stick to test preparation.

Posted by: danielewillis | December 20, 2009 2:49 AM | Report abuse

DC's finest. Wow, that video really says it all..

Posted by: wewinyoulose | December 20, 2009 5:16 AM | Report abuse

This is what you get when mix affirmative action, poor white trash and weapons.

Posted by: usgov | December 20, 2009 5:38 AM | Report abuse

The police are lying and the Post and local tv coverage are part of the coverup. He clearly had the gun in one hand and the radio in the other. The gun was out before he went to pull the radio. That's why he didn't want to provide a badge #. How much do you wanna bet he had business cards in his pocket with name and badge # on there.

The video is testimony to the lying tendencies of law enforcement.

Posted by: riktiktik1 | December 20, 2009 7:09 AM | Report abuse

Are the writers of this article blind? "The officer may have unholstered his pistol. . ." Pictures and vidoe of him with his weapon brandished are posted clear as day on the internet and he admits with his own mouth that he pulled a weapon because he was hit with snowballs. (In reality he was not hit. This all started while he was in his vehicle and his vehicle was pelted with snowballs.) Why haven't the authors issued a corrected article? Why is the original post with so many inaccuracies still up after all this time? The Post reporting on this is atrocious as compared with the City Paper.

This is not like hitting a black kid with a police car in the ghetto. Detective Baylor and the police will pay for this. Imagine all the ways that this could have ended . . .an unidentified belligerent person shows up in a group brandishing a handgun. Anyone would have been within their rights to take him down by any means necessary.

Posted by: loved1 | December 20, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

The police had their handsful yesterday with the snow and traffic related incidents, grown people should have known this and not caused an incident. There is now way you can have large groups of people without some folks getting out of control. I for one do not appreciate getting caught in the crossfire of foolish adults who should have exercised more discretion.

Posted by: matisse2 | December 20, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Acted appropriately my ass! It was a snowball fight, for cryin' out loud! And now these cops are being praised for their extreme over-reaction? BOLLOCKS!

Posted by: BairdmanJr | December 20, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

No doubt this is a stressful time for people, I wonder what sort of financial stress a veteran detective driving (owns?) a Hummer is in during this time of year. Very sad, but is it an acceptable excuse to pull a weapon?

There are rules that police must follow regarding the use of a firearm. Perhaps it's time to for a mandatory review of these rules.

I would imagine that it's based on life threatening situation and would hope that it includes not to create a life threatening situation by pulling a gun. If I were the Chief or Mayor, I'd tell this guy to resign.

It's clear he can not handle himself or a handgun.

Posted by: thomp | December 20, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

14th & U? were these fools selling white stuff or throwing it? chances are the law was outgunned anyhow. let it sue,let it sue,let it sue.clearly a case for the aclu.

Posted by: pofinpa | December 20, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Cop pulls gun on school kids... nice..

But he's not dirty - drives an expensive Hummer, owns several houses, acts like a dope addict, drug lord when a snowball hits the car... All on a lowly cops salary...

Must think he is in Mexico or Columbia living out his Drug Lord fantasy …. Well I guess, it is the District of “Columbia”…

Posted by: UnitedStatesofAmerica | December 20, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Maybe we should turn to "YouTube" for our news coverage.

Posted by: elilhraira | December 20, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

The fact that the brass tried to cover this idiot cop is just as wrong as him pulling his weapon. He should be suspended until a full investigation is done. Had he been a private citizen he would have been shot or arrested.

Posted by: PatrickNYC1 | December 20, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Of course the DC police want to cover it up and protect their own. That's obviously how that idiot is still employed. How would they have reacted in a real situation? This is a perfect example of why crime in DC will never drop significantly.

Posted by: tcochin | December 20, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

The "detective" admits he drew his gun-
Isn't anyone accountable on the DC Police Force? It's funny how they can respond immediately to a snowball fight but couldn't catch anyone associated with the recent carjackings if their lives depended on it.
These guys are a disgrace.

Posted by: tcochin | December 20, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Great fundie thinking, minhle1.
Snowballs at a stopped Hummer = bad.
Police shooting kids = good.

what a bunch of animals throwing snowballs at random people and cars...he should have shot them.

Posted by: ReparateMe_com | December 20, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Officer Baylor's handgun incident caused a formerly-deployed soldier back in to PTSD.

Is this true?
Can anyone substantiate this?

Posted by: ReparateMe_com | December 20, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Since gunfights are more commonplace than snowball fights in D.C., the cop can hardly be blamed for his gut reaction of drawing a gun when he came under enemy fire, even though it wasn't of the lethal variety...this time.

Posted by: frwilcox | December 20, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

If you want to whip snowballs at other people who are up for a snowball fight....more power to you. But the second you start throwing snowballs at passing cars when driving is hazardous enough in those conditions, you're not having harmless're creating a very dangerous situation that could have very bad consequences. If you fail to see that, you're an absolute idiot. And if the guy didn't want to have snowballs whipped at him, it's certainly not harmless fun to him. He has a right to go about his business without being hit by snowballs. Your failure to respect that right makes you nothing more than a punk.

Posted by: davidreiss | December 20, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Great "press release journalism", guys.

Posted by: xtol7 | December 21, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

It's too bad nobody from the Washington Post witnessed the incident; if they had, you could make a conclusive statement rather than just refer to pictures and video posted on the Internet.

Anyway, I continue to be unable to conclude that the officer pulled out his gun. The Post doesn't say he did, and the only information I have that says he did is based on the unreliable evidence provided by my own eyes.

You know, the survivors of the Titanic experienced an illusion - the ship appeared to break in two just before it finally went down. But experts explained that was impossible.

Posted by: MikeToreno | December 22, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

What is your response to this criticism?

Posted by: subwayguy | December 23, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

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