In January 2017, a individual shot five others in front of Eastern High School. In the aftermath, ambulances roared to the scene and the wounded victims were transported to local hospitals for treatment. Police officers knocked on neighborhood doors to find out if anyone could give them information.
Five months later, the police announced that they had arrested a man for the shootings, a Mr. Daniel Evans. The case was referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecution and it wound its way through the judicial system for several more months. Then, without notice to the community, the U.S. Attorney’s Office decided not to prosecute Mr. Evans. Why? I don’t know.
In my role as ANC Commissioner, I asked the U.S. Attorney’s Office to explain and they declined to provide any information. I received the following email in response to my inquiries:
Pohlhaus, Wendy (USADC) <Wendy.Pohlhaus@usdoj.gov>
Krepp, K. Denise Rucker (SMD 6B10);
Kane, Morgan (MPD);
Klein, Douglas (USADC) <Douglas.Klein@usdoj.gov>;
Ward, Calvin (SMD 6A08)
Dear Ms. Krepps (sic),
We appreciate your interest in this case. As you may know, in order to bring an indictment in any felony case, evidence must be gathered and analyzed and, beyond that, there are many complexities to the investigation, charging, and prosecution of a case. While we commend your willingness to engage on behalf of your community, we are mindful of our responsibilities as ministers of justice, our specific obligations to ensure procedural justice, and our charge to ensure that prosecutions are based upon sufficient evidence. See, Commentary to Rule 3.8 of the D.C. Rules of Professional Responsibility. However even when a case is dismissed, our Office is always willing to consider new leads and evidence which could potentially lead us to charging a particular case in the future. Finally, compliance with our professional ethical obligations and our duties to serve the interests of justice and the truth-seeking function of the criminal justice system constrain our ability to provide specific details regarding the dismissal in the Eastern High School shooting investigation.
Again, we thank you for your continued engagement.
Executive Assistant United States Attorney for External Affairs
U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia
I’m confused by DOJ’s refusal to communicate. In 2014, Ms. Pohlhaus, a DOJ representative, told Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy, “Elderly women are getting their purses snatched, and people just look on and won’t get involved,” Pohlhaus said. “When the elderly are victimized by youngsters and no one will stand up for justice, then the elderly will not stand up for justice when it happens to a youngster.”
Ms. Pohlhaus was the DOJ representative who declined to provide information about the Eastern High School shooter in the email I’m sharing above.
Why would she pivot? In 2014, Ms. Pohlhaus and DOJ advocated for communities to get involved in solving crimes. Getting involved means talking to the police and answering their questions.
The Eastern High School crime was a shooting. Five people were injured. Why won’t DOJ explain to those who assisted with the investigation why the individual arrested for the crime wasn’t prosecuted?