The D.C. Snow Job

Social networks, video sharing, and blogs expose Washington, D.C.'s lying police department and their media enablers.


As a blizzard dumped more than a foot of snow on Washington, D.C. last month, a group of youngish, well-wired hipsters gathered in the city's gentrifying U-Street corridor for a mass snowball fight. The idea originated and gained momentum on the social networking site Twitter. That's significant, because by the time it was all over, the Snowball Fight Heard 'Round the World became an apt demonstration of how social networking, easy access to publishing software, and the all-around democratization of technology is blowing open the filtered, narrowly-bored traditional channels of information, helping make both government and traditional media more accountable.

The December 19 snowball fight took an ugly turn when snowballers pelted a red Hummer making its way through the snow-packed intersection of 14th and U Streets in Northwest Washington, a part of the city with some historical turbulence, including the 1968 riots. The driver, D.C. police Detective Mike Baylor, emerged from his vehicle in plain clothes, and without identifying himself as a police officer confronted the snowballers. Baylor unholstered his gun, bringing more derision and insults to an already heated confrontation (including the chant "don't bring a gun to a snowball fight"). Snowballers and observers quickly began calling 911 about a man waving a gun at the intersection. That brought uniformed cops to the scene, one of whom had also (understandably, at that point) drawn his weapon. Baylor detained one person, attorney Daniel Schramm, whom the detective falsely accused of hitting him with a snowball.

Within hours, video of the altercation popped up all over the Internet (including from Reason.tv's Dan Hayes, who was on the scene). By the morning of December 20, anyone with an Internet connection could see from multiple angles shot by multiple video cameras and cell phones that not only did Det. Baylor wave his gun, he also admitted it. Baylor is now under investigation. He's been stripped of his badge and gun, and may lose his job.

(Watch Reason.tv's video "DC Cop Waves Gun at Snowball Fight." Article continues below video.)

The more interesting part of this story, however, is the initial reaction from Washington, D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department (MPDC) and the traditional D.C. media. Despite the fact that video and photographic evidence of Det. Baylor drawing his gun were already widely available on the web, MPDC Assistant Chief Pete Newsham initially issued a series of what can only be called bold-faced lies. Newsham first told the Washington City Paper, "There was no police pulling guns on snowball people." In fact, there were two.

The Washington Post then reported:

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…

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's rush to clear Baylor's name came before the slightest bit of investigation. Newsham also quickly deferred to Baylor's stellar reputation and years of service, distinguishing the noble public servant from the unruly yahoos making accusations against him. That would be fine if Newsham was Baylor's attorney. But he isn't. He's in charge of the MPDC unit responsible for investigating officer misconduct. And here he was disseminating clear and provable lies.

Forget the gun-waving Baylor. This is the real scandal. You'd be awfully naive to think the only time Newsham has publicly lied to defend a MPDC officer accused of misconduct was coincidentally the one time the officer's accusers were tech-savvy hipsters armed with cell phones and video cameras. D.C. Police Chief Kathy Lanier's investigation into the incident ought to go well beyond Baylor. From where did the false information Newsham perpetuated originate? Why was Newsham, whose position is that of a trusted liason between the department and the public, so quick to use bad information to defend a fellow officer? Shouldn't this incident call his judgment into question in other cases? Is he still fit for the job?

Perhaps he was never fit for it in the first place. Civil rights attorney Jonathan Turley noted on his blog that Newsham is one of the defendants in a lawsuit against Washington, D.C. by several students arrested without cause during the 2001 World Bank protests. According to Turley, the students—who say they were observing or covering the protests, not protesting—were arrested, hogtied, and left unattended for as long as 19 hours. Most were never charged. Newsham himself gave the order for the arrests. The city has since spent more than $15 million settling the resulting lawsuits. Newsham was then promoted to his current position—heading up investigations of misconduct by other MPDC officials.

Don't count on the traditional media to look into any of this. As the City Paper's Erik Wemple reported last month, the excerpted post above, the one where Washington Post reporters Matt Zapotosky and Martin Weil uncritically regurgitate Newsham's nonsense, came not only in the face of overwhelming video evidence to the contrary, but in spite of the fact that one of the paper's own staffers was actually at the snowball fight and told the paper that, without question, Baylor had pulled his gun. Local ABC affiliate WJLA also initially posted a news story (since pulled from the site, but linked on several Internet forums, including Fark) that ran with Newsham's denial as the authoritative narrative, adding for good measure some they-probably-deserved-it color about the snowball hurlers carrying anti-war signs and wearing black ski-masks. Ski-masks. In the middle of a snowstorm. Imagine that!

Two days later, Post Metro columnist Marc Fisher chimed in. Fisher smugly boasted that in contrast to "sketchy" summaries of the snowball fight "on the blogs," Post reporter Zapotosky engaged in some "classic reporting," and "using clear, unemotional prose," went out to "find the puzzle pieces and put them together." Except that in his initial report, all Zapotosky did was call and then unskeptically defer to an authority figure, in this case Newsham. And in doing so, he got the story wrong. Even Zapotosky's updates to his first post were hedgy. In the first, he wrote that video evidence suggested Baylor "may have unholstered his pistol." Well, no. The videos show that Baylor unquestionably did. In the second he links to more video, but still doesn't acknowledge Newsham's misinformation—or the fact that he uncritically ran with it.

For all the "and then the adults took over" anti-new media sneer in Fisher's post (and hey, Fisher did write all of this in a blog post—so maybe he has a point!), the link for his "on the blogs" condescension actually goes the City Paper, which got the story right from the outset. The City Paper called Newsham, too. But instead of running with Newsham's denials as fact, that paper's reporters also viewed the video evidence posted around the web and talked to eyewitnesses—including the Post's own staffer, whom Zapotosky ignored.

Instead of turning his nose up at new media and social networking, Fisher should be asking himself whether, if it weren't for Twitter, YouTube, blogs, and alternative weeklies like the City Paper, the Post would have ever gotten this story right. Or whether the Post would have eventually given credence to Baylor's accusers had this happened not on a busy U-Street intersection teeming with wired gentrifiers, but in D.C.'s poorer, blacker Southeast quadrant, where confrontations with the police are more common yet less covered, and where corroborating video would be less likely. More to the point, if what Zapotosky did was "real journalism," how many other police misconduct stories might the Post have gotten wrong all this time because it merely deferred to MPDC flacks like Newsham?

Fisher's right in that video sharing, social networking sites, and other emerging media outlets ought to be viewed cautiously. But they shouldn't be ignored. Nor should we put all of our faith in journalism's old guard to process all that ugly raw information for us. Traditional media has its own problems, not least of which is its tendency to take self-serving statements from government officials at face value.

Radley Balko is a senior editor at Reason magazine.

NEXT: When You Lie Down With Fill-in-the-Blanks, You Wake Up With Fill-in-the-Blanks

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  1. Isn’t that (racist) picture of the officer pointing his radio not his gun?

    1. Last month, Washington, D.C. police Det. a civil servant, Mike Baylor pulled his gun defended his country after his Hummer work vehicle was pelted attacked by some young D.C. urbanites juvenile delinquents engaged in a snowball fight an insurrection.

    2. It’s an edit job by Steven Spielberg.

      1. Damn kids and their flying bicycles!

    3. Watch the video. Radio’s in his right hand, gun in his left.

  2. Forget the gun-waving Baylor.


    Ha! I’m a card. But seriously, there is a Zapruder film screen grab of Baylor with his weapon drawn (if pointed to the side).

    The lesson here and with every other such news story is that everyone’s account should be considered with skepticism. Establish media (or whatever we’re calling it) have proven themselves to be just as lazy and unreliable in their reporting as any blogger.

    1. Establish media (or whatever we’re calling it) have proven themselves to be just as lazy and unreliable in their reporting as any blogger.

      I learned this years ago from a big-city newspaper report about an incident of which I had detailed first-hand knowledge. I realized that “facts” are used to support the slant of the story, with practical impunity.

  3. “so much as how social networking and the democratization of technology are holding government officials and the traditional media more accountable”

    Accountable? I’m disagree, with a very few execptions. Expose the behavior? yes. Which, if followed, usually exposes the lack of accountability.

  4. Once, when I was a uniformed police officer, I responded in a marked car to a snowball fight at a Junior High School, where passing motorist were complaining of being pelted. I parked the car, and proceeded to walk towards the kids, who immediately showered me with hard snowballs.
    I had to turn around and walk back to my car, while still being hit by many snowballs.
    Taught me many good lessons, including do not show up alone at an unruly crowd (even though they were 12-15 years old)where the crowd is armed with anything, including snowballs and rocks. I just pushed the idea that they would respect the uniform too far.

    1. Wonderful, enlightening story in many ways.

      1- You didn’t bring a gun to a snowball fight (although you could have). Your judgment was impeccable.

      2- Know when to back down, sometimes you lose a battle. Most cops these days are taught to escalate everything to “ensure the public knows who’s in charge” or some such. How’s that working for ya’?

      3- Much like a guy hitting a girl back, there is no win in it for you to subdue a bunch of unruly 12 year olds.

      The police are trying to fight a battle that they just cannot win without turning the whole place into a gulag. People just insist on not being herded. The authorities simply cannot win this and should back off before it gets too ugly.

    2. Never bring a cop to a snowball fight.

      1. Never fight a cop to a snowball.

        1. Never threaten with your gun tomorrow what you can’t threaten with your gun today is what I always say.

    3. I honestly don’t even have that much of a problem with the officer drawing. It can be hard to tell the difference at first between a harmless snowball fight and one where you’re being assaulted by a mob with rocks and ice. It would have been better had he approached simply ready to draw, but he didn’t point the gun at anyone, no from the video seem to gesture with it threateningly – he just had it.

      The coverup is *much* more concerning to me from a civil liberties standpoint than a cop overreacting about the danger he was possibly in.

  5. Looks like that blue line has widened to the MSM. You can’t be too surprised. The two have roughly the same qualifications. High school diploma and J-school degree, not a whole lot of difference there.

    1. hmm
      “Looks like that blue line has widened to the MSM. You can’t be too surprised. The two have roughly the same qualifications. High school diploma and J-school degree, not a whole lot of difference there”.

      Your just another elitist with nothing real to say.
      You must love Obama.

      1. “Your (sic) just another elitist with nothing real to say.”


    2. Elitist? What in the name of all that isn’t fucking retarded is “something real to say?”

      Are you serious? Is this a troll? Or are you pissed at the slam at J-school or high school graduates. Or cops? You are either one confused individual or the point of your post flew over my “elitist” head at mach 2.

      1. Let me guess, hmmm. You do have a college education, dont you?

      2. Yes. And what in the fuck does that have to do with the price of tea in China. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know most officers have high school and academy, and most J-schools are virtually worthless when it comes to anything other than basic mechanics that can be learned by a shaved monkey. As long as the monkey is a blithering liberal leaning hipster. (yes I’m using broad strokes, so fire up the hyperbole and sarcasm detector)

        You’re probably traveling down a path that isn’t going to go quite as well as you think it is.

        Hmm has two mm’s not three. It’s the college that allows me to detect such anomalies.

        1. hmm,
          Thirty or forty years ago, the police and media may have been high school and junior college educated, but not these days.
          And what path should I be afraid to travel down?
          And if your college education really allowed you to detect anomalies, Einstein, your explanation would not say “Hmm has two mm’s not three” but would say ‘Hmm has two m’s, not three’.

          Bring it on Obama elitist…

          1. – I never said to fear anything. Reading comprehension is key in any discussion or argument when using the medium of printed text. You’re making assumptions about me as a person that are hilariously off base and easily backed up with the consistency of my past posts.

            – Grammar naziing a sarcastic comment is hilarious. Thank you for the laugh. (I made the word nazi a verb in this sentence, this is not acceptable grammar.)

            – I know a lot of officers. With nothing more than high school degrees and academy. The educational requirement for entry into the majority of police academies or police forces are a high school diploma. There are some, I believe the percentage is 25% or so, that require some higher education.

            It appears I struck a nerve with you. Maybe I should respect you for your profession alone and not your inability to make assertions about my personal political leanings. I bet you prove all your suspects guilty too, don’t you?

            Oh, it’s already been brought’n.

            1. I warned ya dude.

              1. Yes, that was a scathing rebuke that brought me to my knees. Ouch, ow, bang, ooh.
                What a repartee, you ignorant fuck…

                1. Uh, I wasn’t necessarily referring to my comments.

            2. You will provide a citation for your 25% number? I am sure you learned how to provide citations at your college. No, I am not a cop. I don’t like caps. But I also don’t like assholes who think that a piece of paper makes them superior.

              1. It’s a rough number from what I think was a 1995 study. I don’t like assholes either. So I guess we are both in the same self loathing boat.

                might have been this, not going to sift through it to satisfy you. You also might find it here.

                Do your own research if you want to pick nits and play asshole. Take a second to notice the “I believe” qualifier in front of the statement as well. While a some what shitty thing to do when using a number it clearly indicates that I didn’t spend a whole lot of time vetting the number and might even lead to me looking for someone to post a better figure. You too might want to take a little trip in the elitist scouting time machine before trying to call me an elitist.

                How many assholes do we have on this ship?

              2. I have never found hmm to have a superiority complex. In fact, the only people to ever make that claim have been cock-sucking, self-important cops and the civilians that lick cop assholes clean.

                1. “Enough About PalinI have never found hmm to have a superiority complex. In fact, the only people to ever make that claim have been cock-sucking, self-important cops and the civilians that lick cop assholes clean.”

                  What do you know,EAP? You’re still whining about the Palin coverage for crying out loud.

                  And I remember your type, those who hung around public restrooms at the park, hoping to make a score.

                  1. stereotype much. The hypocrisy is thick up in here. You have to be a troll.

              3. CM,
                he still hasn’t got it. Thanks for the backup…

                1. That is what you call backup? I’d call officer down and wait for the troops. You are so far in over your head you couldn’t get out with a fucking ACME rocket ship at this point. Seriously did you just toss out a testosterone filed filled thanks for the back up post? Why not get his address so you can pat him on the ass. (this has no relation to the ball kneading in DIA)

                  You keep making the stereotype harder and harder to not disbelieve.

                  1. Oh crap filled filed typo. Grammar nazi is warming his V2 rocket and aiming it my way.

                    1. Fuck I can’t do two things at once.

                      You keep making the stereotype harder and harder to disbelieve.

                    2. Witty, Gobbler, very witty.

                      By the way, what exactly is it that you ‘gobble’.

                    3. Resources.

                    4. hmm,
                      “Fuck I can’t do two things at once.”

                      You said it hmm, so quit trying to type and think at the same time.

                      And there is no doubt that you use stereotypes to put down others, while trying to build yourself up. Asshole.

                    5. You have an affinity for ad homs. Which is can be telling about a person’s ability to form an argument. Or maybe you just like them.

              4. I don’t like CAPS either. 🙂

                Joking, I agree with you.

          2. Thirty or forty years ago, the police and media may have been high school and junior college educated, but not these days.

            Dunno ’bout the media, but the requirements to become a cop in Detroit Michigan do not include an education beyond high school.

            Keep enlightening us Jaysea.

            1. J sub D,

              The requirements to become a lawyer in most states do not require a law degree, but virtually every lawyer that is hired by a law firm does have one.

              Same with MSM new hires and policemen. Those desiring those jobs find the competition to be very real, and usually only those with a bachelors degree are hired.

              Just trying to bring another perspective to the party J sub D…

              1. You are about to get corrected by attorneys. You have to have a three year degree an ABA accredited (I think its ABA) school to sit on the Bar. With the exception of Louisiana.

                Pretty sure that’s correct.

                1. can we get a lawyerly ruling on this?

                  1. California, for one, does not require a degree from an ABA school.

                    1. Doh, guess I could be wrong on at least one count. I swore you had to have a 3 year degree from an ABA accredited school to represent someone.

                      Damnit now all I get is a participation ribbon.

                    2. You are wrong on all counts, as usual.

                      Wait, wait, you write down the greatest amount of words. That impresses some people. They will vote for you…

                    3. In Austin, the competition to be a blue is so stiff that they have to park a cruiser in the center of I-35 with a help wanted sign in the windshield. I know I’m not even gonna bother sending my resume in.

                    4. KY, as long as you can shoot and kill a young black man with your gun, you’re in APD!

                    5. actuall wiki, the worst source ever, but I’m not going to cruise the 09 bar admission guide. Lists the standard 3 ways to be admitted to the state bar. 3 year school, 4 year school, and sit on the bar of another state that California recognizes. I’m pretty sure that holds for most states.

                    6. Worst source ever… Ever hear of the peer review process?

                    7. Why do you hate words?

    3. Exactly. Why would Journalism require a college degree? One should be able to learn all that is needed for Journalism in High school. It was that way 50 years ago…when a High school education meant something.

    4. I didn’t read your first post. It all makes sense now.

      It’s pretty funny you assumed respect comes from clothes, and not actions.

      Thanks for backing up my belief in the absolute and completely stupid and mindless knee jerk reaction of the blue line and one asterisk fellas.

      1. hmm – he didn’t taser or shoot the kids. I hate to say it, but my expectations of cops are so low these days, I’m impressed by that.

        1. They were armed with snowballs and he was completely outnumbered. The Uniformed Police Officer shit hisself and retreated to his Marked Car feeling disrespected and hurt.

          1. brotherben,
            “They were armed with snowballs and he was completely outnumbered. The Uniformed Police Officer shit hisself and retreated to his Marked Car feeling disrespected and hurt.”

            i ddin’t shit myself, but I was very aware that I was totally incapable of handling the situation, with no back up plan except pulling my gun and shooting the little bastards. I beat a hasty retreat instead.
            The uniform should be respected, but obviously isn’t always, especially by a bunch of show off type of early teen boys.
            I got myself into something I couldn’t really handle, and I learned a lesson. I was just passing this along to maybe help understand the DC policeman’s actions.

            1. The only clothing I inherently respect are the socks that I took off after humping 30 miles. They could stand up by themselves!

              1. hmm

                Oh, what a surprise. You humped your socks for 30 miles. I bet they could stand up by themselves, as this probably wasn’t the first time you humped them since you last washed them.

                And, would you rather me spell it ‘hummped’?

                1. You are a marvelous troll!

            2. “i (sic) ddin’t (sic) shit myself”

              That was your mistake. Had you done so, you could have hurled it at the crowd. Nothing breaks up a group of junior high school kids like flying shit.

              Guess they didn’t teach you that at the academy.

              1. Wow, great comment Gobbler! That enlightens everyone.

            3. “The uniform should be respected”

              God damn right.

              1. Preach it brother!!

                1. That’s right sista!

                  1. You tell ’em . . . Oh, never mind

                    1. That’s right bitch! Respect the threads.

                      Where’s my money hoe?

            4. I think you did the right thing.

              There are plenty of situations were a gun in the hands of a good man is no power at all, because a good man can’t use it and wouldn’t rely on it.

              I’ve got little respect for police. There are some good ones, but mostly they are taught to prosecute and harrass rather than serve and protect. Because of this, in an urban environment, you have no authority except that gun you wear because your fellow officers have forfieted, being to quick to rely on the fear of a badge or a gun.

              Truth of the matter is that you weren’t hoping that they respected the badge. You were hoping that they feared it. And you walked in on a school boy ritual were the big kids had learned as small kids the normal social rules of what is allowed are relaxed. They were playing, ‘It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye’, and so they had no conditioning to be afraid of your badge or your gun.

              You could have attempted to earn their respect, but as most people aren’t taught respect for authority any more – they are instead taught to fear it – you would have probably failed in that regard. But, the real defense you probably had in this situation was neither a gun nor a badge, but a smile. A pastor or priest (or even a coach) probably had more authority in this situation than you did, and was better trained to handle it.

            5. You should have tried to join into the snowball fight. I bet that would have worked better than you might think.

              1. If by worked out better you mean sued by the parents for sexually harassing their children.

  6. Correction –

  7. “When Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned in the Tower of London, he occupied himself with writing a history of the world. He had finished the first volume and was at work on the second when there was a scuffle between some workmen beneath the window of his cell, and one of the men was killed. In spite of diligent enquiries, and in spite of the fact that he had actually seen the thing happen, Sir Walter was never able to discover what the quarrel was about; whereupon, so it is said — and if the story is not true it certainly ought to be — he burned what he had written and abandoned his project.”
    — George Orwell

    1. “…And then he wrote all the storylines for Law & Order.”
      –George Orwell

  8. Accountable? [I] disagree, with a very few execptions. Expose the behavior? yes. Which, if followed, usually exposes the lack of accountability.

    This is true, and very important. It used to be that scandals brought down the person responsible. The new normal – “Mistakes were made, I’m responsible, but damned if I’m quitting my sweet job” I think started with Janet Reno.

    1. Yeah, accountability is just a word, it’s no longer an action.

  9. I remember Reno getting all sorts of credit for taking the blame, but I always thought that if she’d really meant to do that, she’d have resigned.

    1. I just remember how insanely HOT she looked with that pouty little smile. Mmmm mmmmm mmmmmmmm

      1. Time to hit the brain bleach.

      2. Congratulations. SugarFree never made me throw up in my mouth a little the way you just did.

  10. Just because a public official does a shitty job doesn’t mean he’s not the best man for that job. (see: Bernanke, Ben)

  11. Great article.

    WPost = shit.

    DC govt employees = shit.

  12. Now, now, Radley, if we ever want to enjoy the peace and security of socialist utopia we’ll never have it unless we leave the right to distribute information to the government and their revolutionary ol’ guard journalists in the lies and propaganda ministry.

  13. There is a young jurno named Radley,
    Who writes about cops acting badly.
    Bringing all to the edge,
    Where a lightning-fast sledge,
    Slams into our parts that are nadly.

    1. Oh, so this. Well done, sire. (golf clap)

    2. I missed that, it is awesome.

  14. The only problem I see is that an opportunity to massacre hipsters was wasted. If you think I’m talking about you, I probably am.

  15. “MPDC Assistant Chief Pete Newsham initially issued a series of what can only be called bold-faced lies.”

    Or you could call them “bald-faced lies”, but that would negate the concept “only”.

    1. Maybe the lies were bold-faced after editing.

  16. I think if someone throws a snowball at a cop or at a moving car, the cop is probably justified in drawing his gun.

    It’s not like the cop was part of the fight and then drew his gun when he got hit.

    The fighters shouldn’t be throwing snowballs at automobiles.

    1. I’m so going to draw down on the lil’ fuckers down the street next time they throw a snowball at me. Well see how brave they are with those snowballs when facing a Sig.

    2. Oh, goody! This again.

      And if someone bumps me on the sidewalk I am justified in beating him silly.

      1. See how stupid it is for a cop to draw a gun in a snowball fight? Or does his being a cop make such an action okay?

        1. I feel that you have violated me and I am in the right threatening you with deadly force.

          1. So it’s okay for an officer to threaten with deadly force over a snowball?

            You do realize the drawing down on kids throwing snowballs was sarcasm. Right? There seems to be a disconnect.

            1. I am totally connected. Hello?

              1. Hello? It just meant it seemed we were arguing the same thing. OR I missed something. Which is entirely possible. This particular thread has bamaged my drain.

                1. Tommy, can you hear me?

                2. You missed just about everything, dickhead.

                  1. You sound like a friendly fellow! Please tell me where a lonely soul might find some entertainment. Say, a cock fight or perhaps a circle jerk?

    3. [..and now we’ve replaced the cop in the scenario with a carry-conceal permit holder, let’s see if C notices…]

      I think if someone throws a snowball at a person or a moving car, the person is criminally overreacting by drawing his gun.

      It’s not like a snowball could have actually hurt anyone or anything.

      People shouldn’t be drawing their guns unless their lives are in danger.

      […sorry for putting words in your mouth….]

  17. I get worked up about things when cops go after innocent people or citizens who are minding their own business (traffic stops, no knock raids and so forth). But, I have a hard time getting worked up about he cops going after the congenitally stupid. I am sorry but if you are over the age of 13 and think going out on a public street and throwing snowballs at cars is a good idea, shooting you would just be improving the gene pool. I really don’t care that this guy pulled a gun on these assholes. I feel like I should be upset about cops pulling guns on citizens. But, in this case I just can’t.

    1. I think you’ve expressed how I feel in my previous post better than I.

      Although, I don’t think they should shoot the snowball fighters.

    2. Do you really want to regulate stupid? Cause I’m thinking this might be a, “cast the first stone problem.” for everyone throughout an entire lifetime.

      1. It is not that want to regulate stupid. It is that I really have no sympathy for stupid when it gets shot or regulated.

        1. Neither do I. But that doesn’t justify pulling a gun. There’s a very distinct line between sympathy and justification.

          1. Come on, what’s so bad about a cop waving a gun around. I’m sure the safety was on.

            Now throwing snowballs at cars, that’s a whole ‘nother issue. Those snowballs can really ruin a car’s wax job.

        2. The threat of harm from a snowball pales in comparison to granny actually firing a shotgun at officers.

  18. Good article… but you did not delve into the reason why W.Post metro reporters are so quick to believe the police version.

    1. This is a very good point. Balko leaves a bit too much room to assume the worst kind of faith in Fisher’s actions without delving into the incentives he faces. Since Fisher’s behavior seems to be more systemic rather than isolated, it would be interesting to know just what it is about the MSM’s incentive system such that they reliably defer to civil authorities even when readily available evidence reveals them to be liars.

      For that matter, we’re left with the impression that Newsham is just an evil lying fuck, when the facts of the matter might be much more complicated.

      I’m definitely trying to exonerate Fisher or Newsham (or Baylor), but a lack of information about the incentives they face obfuscate possible systemic problems that appear to be common across police forces and media outlets around the world. Maybe the problem is simply that they reward evil fucks, but it may be that normal people are motivated to act in ways indistinguishable from evil fucks in these systems.

  19. This article is racist. I’m sure that if this happened in a poor/black neighborhood it would have been videoed too. Crack dealers all have cellphones with cameras.

    1. No, you’re racist. And yo mama’s racist.

      1. Oh shit, now I’m racist.

  20. The correct response in this case and in Jaysea’s case also is to unholster a Video Cam and start filming. that action immediately turns a mob into a group of individuals. No-one wants to watch videos of themselves in court, on YouTube or on AFV.

  21. Or identify yourself as an officer and start lobbing snowballs back. Have a laugh, and then calmly ask everyone to stop pelting cars.

    Holy shit that might work!

    1. Yeah, hmmmmm, have the Policeman throw snowballs back. Brilliant! Maybe he could throw at the cars too…

      Yeah, that’s the Walt DisneyWorld way of handling this. Maybe they would invite you down to the “Olde Malt Shoppe’ afterword for a hot cocoa.

      Your posts keep getting stupider…

      1. Your posts keep getting stupider…


        (I like this game)

        1. hmmmm

          Too bad your not good at it…

          1. You’re winning an argument on the internet!

            1. There should be a Special Olympics for internet arguing.

              1. I will participate if there is a medal for mocking.

                1. You would just be a loser again, hmmm.

                  1. Seriously? They give you a gun and a badge?

                    1. Yes, and I can assure you that they would never give you one.

                    2. I bet your gun is huge.

                      I’ve got the guns. Don’t need or want the badge.

                    3. hmmm,
                      I just realized that you are either a girl or gay, and feel very threatened by those big bad policemen. So, I will not pick on you any more. So put your make believe guns away, and you can go out to play. I think there is a hopscotch game going on down the street from you.

                      So long.

                    4. So being a girl or gay is bad and implies I am afraid of cops? That’s hilarious. Did you pickup those powers of deduction from the academy?

                2. Everybody gets a medal. It’s the Special Olympics.

                  1. I’m there.

                    (inside joke warning: RUN BEN RUN!!!)

              2. I win, bitches!

                1. I don’t see why Pinocchio with glasses on would own.

            2. hmmmm,

              And your losing one…

              1. Are you going to grammar nazi yourself?

          2. For the love of god if you are going to play the grammar nazi please stop abusing the poor ellipsis.

            1. hmmmmm,
              Please start using the ellipsis as your posts are entirely too long.

              1. Isn’t the first poster to mention the word Nazi the winner?

                1. No, everyone does a shot of Yagermeister.

              2. So, I can’t see straight anymore. Has anyone stayed sober enough to know how many times Jaysea has invoked a rule in the drinking game?

      2. or would the cop throwing a few snowballs himself show the kids that he is human too? Correct me if im wrong but is it not easier to ask a favor of a friend than someone who resents you?

  22. The police are there to preserve disorder, dammit!

  23. I take it you didn’t know any of the juveniles involved? Couldn’t call them out by name and admonish them or call their parents and tell them to come down and pick up their snowball throwing children? You probably didn’t care either that snowball throwing was an absolute blast when you were young too?

    Ah, life in the big city, just one big anonymous pool of hatred and distrust. Yay…

    1. That last post was for Jaysea

      1. Lost_In_Translation

        No, I didn’t know any of the juveniles, much less by name.

        Admonish them? These are teen-aged boys, they would not have stopped to be ‘admonished’.

        I think I was wrong to post this little story here. I think you would have to be in this situation yourself to understand it.

        1. Gee, so we’d have to be cops to understand the sheer horror and existential angst of being faced down by boys with snowballs? And here I thought we were communicating in a language rich with possibility that could be used to convey almost any information known to man. How the English language has failed us all.

          Well, it’s failed you, anyway. But I probably shouldn’t blame the the tool for the user, should I?

          1. T
            bravo, bravo. Well said!

            Existential angst? …blame the the tool? And the English language has failed me? Bawahahahahahahahahahahaha!

        2. “I think you would have to be in this situation yourself to understand it.”

          Are you suggesting no one here has been the target of bullying? Seriously? Likewise, are you suggesting that no one here knows how to deal with it or even put a stop to it? Some of us have to get through life without a gun on our hip and a badge on our chest, but we are no less familiar with life than you.

          Like I said, I think you did the right thing. You recognized you were in over your head and you got out of a situation you weren’t trained for. You did what I probably would have done. However, in that situation it’s also true that I didn’t have a duty.

          Now, what’s also true is that Andy Griffith could have controlled the snow ball fight. He had basic policing skills, like becoming acquinted with as many people as possible. The basic problem you have is that you are no more skilled at your job than Barney Fife. You are a better shot, and you are more socially graceful, but you are no better of a policeman.

          Now of course, you think I’m exagerrating. You think the world doesn’t work like Mayberry. And to a certain extent that is true, but its also true that knowing the names and about the lives of a few thousand people – which a small town cop will – is a at least as important of a skill to being a good police officer than being a good shot or having ‘SWAT’ skills.

          But again, I’m not blaming you. You are a victim of a dysfunctional system. Your job doesn’t let you actually do the job of a copper. You get orders, and you fulfill those orders, and the result is that you and the community you protect have become enemies.

          1. Celebrum,
            Things are much different in a bigger city than Mayberry. Our population is over 2M, and we are rarely assigned districts in our home area.

            No, Andy Griffith is an actor. They write the situations that they put him in, and he always gets to come out the winner, and always in one-half of an hour. Hollywood does not reflect police life in any way. Stay away from TV, and go downtown in a big city after midnight (borrow one of hmmmmm’s guns). Stop a robbery, drug addict, snowball thrower. I bet you would be laid out flat in two seconds.

            We get orders from people like you, who elect our lawmakers. We just enforce laws. Because you can’t put on your big boy pants and understand that you and all voters are the real problem, you will always be blaming someone else. Grow up asshole, and quit pontificating on a subject you obviously dont have an inkling about.

            1. – Most awesome list:
              Stop a robbery, drug addict, snowball thrower.

              Try rolling the hood armed with a meds bag. Stop thumping your chest. It’s people who think and act the way you are acting here and wear a uniform that are at the root of the problem.

              1. You’re a troll, aren’t you hmmm?

                1. I am The Troll.

                  1. I know the Urkobold, and you, sir, are no Urkobold!

            2. Things are no different in the big city than Mayberry. I’ve lived in both. In ‘Mayberry’ the kid in front of me in the home room class blew the head off two other kids in a bad drug deal. I got shot past in a drive by in Mayberry, population 6000 in the whole county. I’ve ridged walked and talked as a Federal agent in the Appalacian where there are no roads talking to folks that point guns at feds, and right across the street from my current apartment in the ‘big city’ 11 people got shot about two weeks ago when someone pulled a 9mm in a bar fight.

              You say you’ve got 2 million citizens officers. Well, then depending on what city you come from, you’ve got a department strength of between 6000 and 10000 officers. That’s what, one cop for every 2000 or 3000 people? That’s small town numbers. It’s the same problem, your bosses have just chosen to see the problem differently. If you were assigned districts in your home area, if you were a local beat cop, you could walk into a snow ball fight and if not put a stop to it, then at least tone it down. But you are an alien, a stranger, a foreigner, and generally unwelcome because you aren’t.

              You swagger. I know the swagger. I used to be in a gang. I know about swagger. I’ve walked the walk. You move just like another gang with your own colors. It’s a cop thing. You try to be intimidating. You try to look tough. It doesn’t work. You notice you never see cops smile. They are taught to look at everyone as a potential enemy. They are taught that’s the way to be safe. But the problem is that they make enemies out of people that wouldn’t be their enemy.

              You don’t know me at all if you think I’m the guy electing the bozos that make the rules. You don’t know me at all if you think I have a better opinion of the voting habits of Americans than you display. You don’t know me at all if you think I’m watching Hollywood. I watch maybe one movie a year. I don’t have cable. I have an old 19″ TV and no converter box.

              I’ve been downtown after midnight. I got over putting on my ‘big boy pants’ and trying to prove something about how tough I was along time ago. I used to walk the train tracks and hang out with the homeless and the guys off their meds. You think you’re tough? You going to swagger around about how tough you are? You going to brag about how I’d be laid out in 2 seconds? That’s just gang talk. Been there. Done that.

              Difference between me and you is I know something you evidently don’t know, and that is that the problems with America aren’t just the problems with the voters or the lawmakers. It’s not a ‘them’ problem.

        3. “I think I was wrong to post this little story here.”

          Welcome to the internet my friend.

        4. At least you didn’t post the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Then you would have gotten shit-stomped.

  24. 3,749 students and alumni of Michigan Technological University, as well as members of the community, set the world record for most people engaged in a snowball fight on February 10, 2006. There were no guns.

    1. OMG! how did they manage to survive with no police waving guns?

  25. I have read the comments on this post.
    Jaysea lost.
    The argument is closed.

    1. We all lost, except for those who read the Gobbler’s limerick.

    2. I have to admit, I learned nothing in this process. lol

      1. Surprising no one except possibly yourself in the process, I’m sure.

          1. Jay clearly has the rocky music. Look at that rage. He is an all caps TIGER.

            You’re a certified hostage negotiator aren’t you?

          2. Go lick a dog’s ass ’til it bleeds, Jaysea.

            1. T,

              Talk about licking a dog’s ass, how’s your mother doin?

              1. Really? A gun and a badge? You have to be full of shit and posturing. Otherwise my it may be possible for my opinion of the boys in blue to have actually lowered.

                1. hmmm
                  “Otherwise my it may be possible…”

                  Are you the one bragging about their command of the English language?

                  1. Uh, no. I never bragged about anything to do with English. I made fun of you for doing it. Then getting your ass handed to you on several occasions.

                    I’m about as dyslexic and retard as they come when it comes to text.

                    1. hmmmm,
                      “I’m about as dyslexic and retard as they come”

                      No doubt, I’ve read your posts.

      2. I warned you.

        1. hmmm,

          Waaaa, waaaa, waaaaa….

          (the sound of your whining should include a lisp)

          1. I took a shit on Jaysea once.

            1. Sandi,
              I took a Sandi once. That’s when I learned my Sandi really did stink.

          2. Barney Fife:

            1) Thinks problems are solved by his gun and goes for it frequently.
            2) Thinks people ought to respect the badge and the uniform.
            3) Swaggers. Intimidates. Brags. Threatens.
            4) Is always on the lookout for law breakers.
            5) Doesn’t stand for anyone disrespecting him.
            6) Believes that there are two kinds of cops: the quick and the dead.

            Police departments are full of them, and sadly they are usually better shots. I’ll say this for you though. At least you didn’t actually pull a Barney Fife and flash your gun at some overgrown kids hefting ice balls.

    3. I wish someone would have told me it was a competition. I have Eye of the Tiger all queued up and ready to go.

    4. Actually, I think hmm lost.

      1. Fuck. And I tried so hard. Can I try again?

        1. hmmm,
          No, you would just lose again…

          1. Careful Jay. The TR guy is using your email address.

            1. Or you changed the name and not the email address. Which with the powerful intellect you have displayed here, is very possible.

              1. Oh, for an IP confirmation.

      2. Um TR, you might want to change your email address. It’s the same as Jaysea’s. That might get confusing.

        1. That was your mother. She is over here sucking on my crank…

          1. Score, we have a yo momma joke.

            This is almost sad. But I just can’t stop.

            1. Please try. Both of you.

  26. I remember seeing at least 4 local and national TV news stories on this incident. In each one, they showed the responding officer with his gun drawn. It was not until I went online, that I learned the whole story.

    Was this because the responding officer was white and fit their narrative or are they just plain lazy in their reporting?

  27. Im glad i stayed out of the city that day. DC Police, like most, can not be trusted to do anything right, less of all tell the truth, and not brandish weapons at kids having fun in the snow. What a crock, I really hope that officer gets jail time. Talk about abuse of authority. What would have happened if a “private citizen” would have reacted the same way. He would be in jail.

  28. I should probably apologize to Mr. Balko for mucking up his thread. But for the love of god this was like putting pie in front of a bored fat man. And I’m a fat man with a weak will when it comes to trolling stupidity.

    So I’m kind of sorry, but not really. Cause I had fun. And we all know an Objectivist is all about ones own fun, or something like that.

    1. I though Rand called it the virtuousity of selfishness. Or is that Objectivist slang for masturbation?

    2. hm,

      Waaaaa, waaaaa, waaaaa, lisp, lisp, lisp…


    3. Ayn Rand has been mentioned on a Reason thread. Drink.

  29. I watched the video twice because it was so entertaining to hear that one guy yelling “Fuck You, Pig!” over and over. It warmed the cockles of my cold, cold heart.

    1. You have small edible saltwater clams inside your heart? How would watching a video warm them?

      1. Maybe you should see a doctor about that.

        1. LOL yes the shells were crushed by my mussels.

  30. If he lied about this how many other times has he lied if i was locked up on a charge i cuaght because of this cop i would be looking for a retrial.It has now been proven with out a doubt that he lies and lies to protect himself.& Then his superiors lied to. I think it is time for an audit of the D.C. police financial and arrest records .And pyscological screening for all officers still carrying a fire arm on duty.This officer has no buisness being allowed to carry a firearm any more he has proven he is not suited for this type of work give him a desk or send him to the unemployment office before he destroys some ones life over a spilled cup of coffee or some other nonsense

    1. Goo goo gaga to you too.

  31. That’s not the story either.

    Would the Post accept self-serving statements from Bush administration officials? You and we all know the answer to that.

    The real story is that these bozos are not even the least bit interested in uncovering corruption, misconduct or incompetence unless it would discredit a Republican or a conservative.

  32. How does a police detective afford a Hummer?

    1. He waves his gun around at the Hummer dealership.

    2. The hookers give them to the cops for free…with snowballs if they want ’em…

  33. I hate when I stop my hummer and get a snowball in the mouth.

  34. Every time I read about this story all that comes to mind is what if that was my vehicle and a group of people were throwing snowballs at it when the road conditions were bad. That seems like it should be against some law; Lord knows we have plenty.

    Also, it’s nice to see at least person going all out to hold the police accountable.

  35. The cop was a fool. That being said, you pelt *my* car with a snowball, I run you over, and then say the splattered snowball blocked my view.

  36. How does a DC detective afford a hummer??

    1. By waving his gun around at the Hummer dealership.


  37. Baylor should have lobbed a few rounds over those pissy little punks’ heads.

  38. The complete hatred for police officers on this forum disgusts me. They’re guys doing a job. Some of them are assholes, some of them are nice guys – all of them want to collect a paycheck and go home.

    Bashing on all of them because some of them fuck up is just going to encourage the cop solidarity you guys seem to hate so much.

    1. Now that’s some logic. The community you serve thinks your entire ranks have become nothing more than thugs. So what do the “guys justdoing their job” do? The band together to protect their brothers. It isn’t us v. them, but it seems everyone with a gun thinks it is.

      200, mission accomplished (I need an aircraft carrier and a press conference)

  39. Is anyone else curious as to how a cop, even a dective, can afford to drive a hummer. I know cops can make a decent salary in many metro areas but hummers are not the cheapest vechicles to buy or maintain.

    Oh yeah, and bringing a gun to a snowball fight is a bit extreme. Actually drawing your weapon, that is just crazy.

    1. Cops can make a shit ton of money. Most departments have automatic step raises of 2-5% per year. Big city cops usually start out in the 40-50K range. If they acheive any kind of rank, and this guy was a detective, and they’ve been on ten years they’re most likely making over 70K. The overtime is sweet. Then there’s the off-duty details, where they get paid 40- 50/hr to hang out at clubs, movie theaters, road construction zones, etc. It’s very, very easy for cops to afford nice cars. Most cops I know easily afford homes with pools, boats, and their wives’ breast implant surgeries.

    2. *Bringing* the gun is totally expected. Pulling it out as if you’re in some kind of danger is insane.

  40. Love how so many people are on the cops case yet how many are talking about the possible damage to private property and non-involved people, possible accidents on the street, etc.

    The video also clearly shows an assault against the police officer when an idiot hit him with a snow ball. Also it is clear that the crowd, especially those in front knew he was a police officer. Not to mention that an officer drawing a weapon when there is a hostile crowd is authorized which quieted the crowd then he puts it away.

    Keep it up idiots, keep supporting dumb a$$e$ who created the scene.

    1. Agree with you Flame

  41. I agree to the extent you shouldn’t throw snowballs at cars or people who aren’t in on the game, but come on. He threatened a crowd of non-violent civilians with a gun.

  42. Pulling the gun was probably a bad idea, but it isn’t like he was waving it around threateningly. I don’t think it is entirely unreasonable for a cop to at least have the gun ready when stepping out of a vehicle that was just hit by something.

    The cop isn’t the story here. Neither is the crowd, who were also doing some somewhat stupid shit. The real story here is the way the authorities and the press handled the story. If they are gonna cover up this shit then I fear for what they cover up that matters.

    1. “it isn’t like he was waving it around threateningly”

      What else do you wave a gun around for?

  43. I watched an incident unfold in a country in Central America.

    The town was very remote and without telephones, communications or a local police force. Two police officers from another town arrived and were doing their patrol. They entered the cantina because of a rucus. A young lady was a bit intoxicated and didn’t appreciate their intervention and was very verbose about it. They immediately handcuffed her and hauled her to the corner of the street and waited for transportation (hitch a ride) to the other town with their prisoner.

    The local town folk were not overly pleased with this and stated their opinion. The police weren’t listening until they were surrounded by over 25 people. After a short time, they realized that this was a “no win” situation and released their prisoner and started walking back to their town…

    That’s the first and only time I’ve ever seen police think critically and rationally…

  44. Forget it, Radley. It’s Washington.

    DC may be the nation’s capital, but it’s got an inbred local government with all the glad-handing, back-scratching, girlfriend-hiring and back-room dealing that implies. Nobody’s surprised that the police department’s got problems.

  45. How does a DC cop afford a Hummer?

  46. Anyone recall a book that was published a million years ago, called “The Peter Principle”? In a nutshell, the author contends that, irrespective of the organization, individuals are invariably promoted to their level of incompetence. This means that, no matter how competent you are, you will end up in a position, like assistant chief Newsham (or that famous zilch that handled the FEMA approach to the Katrina debacle? Sorry, couldn’t resist…), for which you are decidedly unsuited, to put it kindly.
    Everyone needs to go back and read H.L. Mencken on the subject, written a hundred years ago, more or less. We have no right to be astonished when the police act the way they do. How on earth can we justify expecting an organization that is, at bottom, essentially fascist, to be adept at balancing that easy approach to societal control with humanity? Kudos to the police forces which, like the Lee County Sheriff’s department in Florida, retain a sense of courtesy and treat the majority of citizens with restraint.
    D.C. is a war zone, in a way. The main theatrical stage is the government, just a stone’s throw away, which many look to for answers and get gobbledegook.
    Is it any wonder…..?

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