By MICHAEL BALSAMO, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — A United States Capitol Police officer has been charged with federal civil rights after he was involved in an unauthorized high-speed chase, crashed into a motorcycle, and then tried to cover it up , prosecutors said on Friday.
The officer, Thomas Smith, was supposed to check the homes of members of Congress in Georgetown around 11:30 p.m. on June 20, 2020, when he began pursuing two motorcycles. Prosecutors say Smith “followed closely behind these vehicles at high speed” before swerving his marked patrol car into one of the motorcycles, sending the driver flying through the air.
United States Capitol Police policy prohibits officers from pursuing off Capitol grounds without permission from a supervisor. Smith did not seek approval and did not alert dispatchers that he was involved in a lawsuit, prosecutors say.
Authorities allege Smith drove around the man, leaving the victim lying in the roadway and fled the scene. Prosecutors say Smith “knowingly left the scene of the accident without rendering assistance, alerting medical authorities, and taking any other reasonable steps to get help for the victim.”
He then returned to a Capitol police parking lot, parked the damaged police sedan, falsified a report that said he started his shift later, then went inside and got the keys. from another vehicle, prosecutors said.
The Metropolitan Police Department later contacted Capitol Police about the crash. Smith is accused of later lying to a Capitol Police sergeant and claiming to have no knowledge of the crash, prosecutors say. He told the supervisor he was “assigned and drove the USCP SUV his entire shift,” an indictment against him reads.
Smith, 44, was charged with assaulting the victim’s civil rights and obstructing justice. He is expected to appear in federal court next week, prosecutors said. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney who could comment on the allegations.
Capitol Police officials said Smith was suspended immediately after the crash. Officials said he remains suspended without pay pending the outcome of the criminal case and an internal investigation.
“Public trust is essential for any law enforcement agency and integrity is the most important quality for any law enforcement officer,” said Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger.