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Video of Narcotics Turf War Violence Shown to Jury

May 23, 1991

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Superior Court jurors on Wednesday viewed a videotape showing a holdup and violent beating prosecutors say were part of a turf war between drug dealers in a Washington neighborhood.

The video, providing an unusual glimpse into the drug violence plaguing the nation’s capital, was shown in the trial of five young men on charges of conspiracy, armed robbery, assault and weapons violations.

A 14-year-old taped the incident in October 1989 with full knowledge of the defendants, prosecutors said. He is not on trial with the others.

A bail bondsman hunting for one of the defendants, Joel Carrero, found the tape in Carrero’s New York apartment, prosecutors said.

A government witness, Lonnie Bryant, testified that the defendants made the videotape to frighten away drug dealers from outside their neighborhood.

Bryant, 19, said the defendants ″wanted to beat up a pipe head″ - or crack dealer.

Bryant said one beating victim, Charles Lawson, did nothing to provoke the attack, but was to be ″made an example of.″

The profanity-laced tape showed Lawson being grabbed, slammed against a fence and knocked unconscious.

Joel Carrero then yelled at the victim, ″Yo, yo, yo, this is straight up D.C. hustling.″ Bryant called Carrero the ringleader in the assault.

The video was shown to the jury several times.

Bryant, the nephew of defendant Robert Taper, told Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Grewe he witnessed the attack along with his uncle and defendants Carrero, William Barnes, Michael ″Cave″ Akins and Brian L. Davis.

Lawson and another victim were subsequently shot. But the shooting was not captured on videotape. The other victim cannot be found, police said.

Lawson, who has recovered from the gunshot wound, is expected to be a witness when the trial resumes May 29.

Bryant testified Wednesday after cutting short his appearance on Tuesday when he told the judge he received a threat from the uncle of one of the defendants. The uncle, Anthony Johnson, 28, was charged with obstruction of justice, police said.

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