DC Mayor’s Office: “We couldn’t convict Lt. Choi.”

The abrupt dismissal of charges against Lt Dan Choi and Capt James Pietrangelo in connection with two civil disobedience incidence left more than a few people scratching their heads, why? The prosecutor in the case, Christine Chang was quoted in several sources as saying, “I was ready,” as were all witnesses and arrresting officers. Now, Chris Geidner of Metro Weekly, has released a statement from DC Mayor Fenty’s office:

The Criminal Section of the D.C. Attorney General’s Office considered the ”Failure to Obey” charges. ”After carefully examining video and speaking with the officers involved, it was determined that the charge couldn’t be maintained,” she wrote.

There’s only one rational response to this:

The DC Mayor’s spokesperson continues:

Fenty communications director Mafara Hobson wrote that the failure to obey “charge makes it an offense for a person, whether in a car or on foot, to remain on a sidewalk or in the street after a police officer tells them to move on.”

Courtesy of Daily Kos and Body Positive’s FogCityJohn, the municipal code Choi and Peitrangelo were charged with violating:

[18 DCMR § 2000.2]: No person shall fail or refuse to comply with any lawful order or direction of any police officer, police cadet, or civilian crossing guard invested by law with authority to direct, control, or regulate traffic. This section shall apply to pedestrians to the operators of vehicles.

More from Mayor’s office:

“While chained to the fence, the defendant was standing on a ledge – NOT – the sidewalk. As such, he was not blocking pedestrian traffic,” Hobson wrote. “Once that was realized, the focus of the investigation shifted to what happened immediately prior to his handcuffing himself (i.e., was he blocking the sidewalk at that time and did an officer ask him to move on). After interviewing law enforcement, it was determined that the defendant had not been asked to move on at that point. Therefore, he could not be prosecuted for any activity prior to the handcuffing either.”

And this revelation only came moments before the trial was to begin?

And apparently, this is a legal protest?

Note how their feet are not obtructing the pedestrian pathway? This is good information to have for the future.

Look, certainly I get that prosecutors have discretion choosing which cases to pursue, and which cases not to pursue. And I’d guess a lot of factors go into a decision. I can also imagine DAs are not necessarily bond by law to share the reasons with a curious public.

But that said, just continue your policy of “no comment.” Don’t insult everyone’s intelligence with statements are just so absurd they can’t pass the laugh test.

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