Police Chief Refuses To Halt Anti-Drug Patrols
WASHINGTON (AP) _ District of Columbia Police Chief Maurice Turner said Tuesday he won’t halt neighborhood anti-drug patrols despite an incident in which followers of Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan allegedly assaulted a suspected drug dealer.
Members of the Nation of Islam, a group led by Farrakhan, had been summoned by frustrated residents of a neighborhood surrounding what police call one of the city’s most notorious open-air drug marts.
On Monday, according to police, a handful of Farrakhan followers conducting an anti-drug patrol confronted a suspected drug dealer outside an apartment complex.
The group allegedly beat the man after he produced a sawed-off shotgun, and beat a television reporter and cameraman when the two refused to turn over their film of the incident.
Turner said that in spite of Monday’s violence, his department had no intention of preventing members of the Nation of Islam from resuming their patrols.
″We’re not going to do anything to restrict their activities,″ said Turner. ″Obviously, what occurred yesterday was not within the framework of the law. There were law violations that occurred, and we are investigating.″
A man identified as a Nation of Islam member, Maurice Merriweather, 32, of Washington, originally was charged with two counts of simple assault and one count of theft but the charges were changed Tuesday to one count of robbery in connection with the taking of a television camera.
The suspected drug dealer, 25-year-old Clinton Carroll, was listed in stable condition at D.C. General Hospital, while the reporter, Joe Johns of WRC-TV, was treated and released from Sibley Hospital.
″They were in hot pursuit of a news story, and we were in hot pursuit of a drug pusher,″ said Abdul Alim-Mohammed, a Nation of Islam spokesman. ″We apologize.″
Turner, who previously has said that he wants to train civilians to become part-time reserves to help his officers fight crime, pledged to talk with the group to iron out rules of conduct.
″We do not want them taking the law into their own hands,″ he said. ″We have to work within the realm of the law.″
According to police records, there were more than 1,300 adults and 67 juveniles arrested on drug charges in 1987 at the Mayfair Mansions apartment complex where Monday’s incident occurred.