Takoma Park, MD – The off-duty Pentagon police officer who fatally shot two suspects on Thursday after intervening in what police have confirmed to be a vehicle break-in has been charged with murder.
Pentagon Force Protection Agency (PFPA) Officer David Hall Dixon was taken into custody on Friday morning on two counts of second-degree murder, one count of attempted murder, reckless endangerment, and using a firearm in a felony, WRC reported.
He is being held without bond, TPPD Chief Antonio “Tony” DeVaul said during a press conference on Friday afternoon.
The incident occurred in the parking lot of the Takoma Overlook Condominiums located at 7333 New Hampshire Avenue at approximately 5 a.m. on April 7, the Takoma Park Police Department (TPPD) said in a news release.
The TPPD received a report of shots fired in the area at 5:03 a.m., and arrived to find off-duty Officer Dixon.
Officer Dixon told them he spotted two suspects who he believed were trying to break into a vehicle.
“He engaged the suspects who failed to follow his direction,” the TPPD said in the press release. “The suspects attempted to flee in a vehicle at which time the officer discharged his service weapon.”
It isn’t clear at this time if the vehicle was driving at the off-duty officer at the time he opened fire.
The suspects escaped, but soon turned up at Prince George’s Hospital, according to police.
Both had been shot in the rear area of their upper torsos and succumbed to their wounds at the hospital, TPPD Detective Charles Earle said during the press conference.
Investigators believe the suspects were inside the getaway vehicle when they were shot, Det. Earle said.
They have since been identified as 38-year-old James Johnson and 32-year-old Dominique Williams, WRC reported.
The attempted homicide charge against the officer stemmed from him allegedly shooting at 36-year-old Michael Thomas, the driver of the vehicle the Williams and Johnson fled in, according to ABC News.
Chief DuVaul said Thomas will not be charged with a crime.
“Our investigation revealed that Mr. Dixon’s overview of the events was inconsistent with the facts in the case,” Chief DuVaul said during the press conference. “Mr. Dixon had no lawful or justifiable reason to shoot and kill Mr. Williams and Mr. Johnson.”
The chief did would not discuss details regarding the alleged inconsistencies investigators identified, but told reporters the veteran officer was correct in his belief the suspects were burglarizing vehicles.
“We have confirmed that the victims involved and the other individual involved were actually breaking into vehicles,” Chief DuVaul said.
But he then said that all the of the suspects “were victims in this case.”
The chief said the fact that Officer Dixon is a law enforcement officer had nothing to do with the actions he took against the suspects.
“He was a civilian, who acted as a civilian, who happened to be a law enforcement officer in another jurisdiction,” Chief DuVaul told reporters. “That being said, we do not believe that Mr. Dixon had any law enforcement powers in the state of Maryland…he was acting as a citizen in the state of Maryland.”
He noted that law enforcement officers need members of the public to be their “eyes and ears” on the streets, but that they need to call police when there is a problem instead of taking matters into their own hands.
“Be good witnesses,” the chief said, adding that people should “not intercede themselves.”
“Allow us to handle the situation,” he reiterated.
The PFPA has been notified about the officer-involved shooting, which is being investigated by the TPPD with the assistance of the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office.
“We understand that there is tremendous public interest in this case,” the TPPD said in a press release, according to WRC. “We ask that the public remain patient as we fully investigate this incident.”
A Department of Defense (DOD) spokesperson said late Wednesday evening that the PFPA officer who shot the suspects previously served as a U.S. Army military police officer and as a U.S. Air Force combat crewman, WUSA reported.
He worked as a federal police officer from 2009 until July of 2019, when he joined the PFPA, according to the DOD spokesperson.
The agency said the officer who fired the shots is “current on all use of force and firearms qualifications,” WUSA reported.
He has been placed on administrative leave while the incident is being investigated, according to WJLA.
Officer Dixon is scheduled to appear before the court on Monday for a bond hearing, Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said during the press conference on Friday.