UPDATED: Oct. 15, 2015 4:14 p.m.
WASHINGTON — The D.C. teens whose rough detainment by D.C. police officers caused an outcry earlier this week are now being represented by a local law firm.
Jason Goolsby and Michael Brown, both 18, are working with Grenier Law Group.
D.C. police say the initial call on Monday was for three individuals possibly trying to rob people at an ATM vestibule at 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue SE.
At a news conference Thursday, Peter C. Grenier says Goolsby was only trying to get cash out of his own account.
“The reason we are here today is because three days ago… Jason and Michael were brutalized by the Metropolitan Police Department for literally no other reason than the fact that they are black,” Grenier said at the conference.
“This incident occurred just minutes after they had spent time at a local boot camp in Southeast D.C. where they were going through orientation to become volunteers to help troubled youths and to guide them in, among other things, safe sex and preventing AIDS.”
Shortly afterwards, “they were treated like common criminals,” according to Grenier. “Handcuffed, physically and psychologically brutalized and then told, almost two hours later ‘it was a misunderstanding, you are free to go.’ No charges, no warning and no apology.”
After leaving the bank, Grenier says Goolsby was headed to a Metrobus to visit his brother at Howard University.
“As Jason was crossing 8th Street SE, suddenly he saw a white police SUV driving at a very high rate of speed directly towards him, which he perceived as trying to run him over. He jumped up on the curb just in time to avoid being struck by that SUV.”
Grenier says the white officer who got out of the SUV after it stopped had one hand on his gun and a pepper spray can in the other.
Goolsby ran, according to Grenier, because “he saw a hand on a gun, a hand on a pepper spray can, wielded by a man who had just tried to run him over.”
“So he ran for his own safety, not wanting to die and become yet another casualty of police misconduct.”
The officer eventually managed to tackle him.
**Warning: This video contains violence and profanity
Today we we're harassed and assaulted because " someone felt uncomfortable around us " in a bank . RETWEET ‼️ http://t.co/E2XZaOgJgM—
bighomie✨ (@darealbighomiee) October 13, 2015
“For almost two hours, Jason and Michael sat on the ground, their hands shackled behind their backs, having done absolutely nothing wrong,” Grenier says.
They say they were not told what they had done wrong, despite asking several times.
Later, Grenier says, after a MPD supervisor arrived on scene, their handcuffs were taken off and one of the officers told Goolsby a woman who had seen the friends at an ATM machine called the police and told them she felt “uncomfortable.”
In their original statement on the incident, released Tuesday, D.C. police said the following:
“One individual fled on foot from the police, was chased, and then taken down. The individual resisted, and was handcuffed while resisting after he refused to stop. The person making the video was interfering with police, and was also detained while the incident was investigated.”
They have not released further comments in response Thursday’s news conference.
“I have zero doubt, that if these young men were white, none of this would have happened,” Grenier says.
The law office plans to fully investigate the incident and will “hold all culpable individuals, as well as the District of Columbia, responsible through whatever legal means possible.”
Grenier says Goolsby’s shoulder was injured, and that both young men suffered psychological and emotional pain.
Goolsby is a freshman at the University of the District of Columbia and attended Richard Wright Public Charter School for Journalism and Media Arts, where he played basketball and football. Grenier says Goolsby also has a passion for music.
Brown is a senior at Richard Wright Public Charter School and he wants to major in graphic design and marketing in college.
Grenier says both Goolsby and Brown have also been guests at the White House, for a symposium hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama.
Kevin Donahue, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice in Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration released the following statement Thursday:
“The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) is conducting a review of Monday’s unfortunate incident to ensure that all procedures were followed. Additionally, Mr. Goolsby and Mr. Brown can choose to file a complaint, which will result in an independent review. Mayor Bowser is committed to a fair and thorough review of Monday’s incident. Since coming into office, Mayor Bowser has championed policies that improve police-community relations. In addition to undertaking community engagement on policing like the #IwishUknew youth forum, the Mayor provided funding so that all 2,800 officers who regularly interact with the public will be equipped with a body camera. If the officers involved here had been wearing body cameras, a recording of the entire incident – from the moment the call came in, to the end of the incident – would be available to those involved, and ultimately to the public. The program has not moved forward because the Council has not finalized rules. The Administration urges Council to pass rules so cameras can be deployed as soon as possible.”
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