Updated 3:30 p.m.
Defense witnesses milled about in the hallway this morning outside courtroom 210 of D.C. Superior Court. Defense attorney Bernie Grimm came to court with dozens of photographs. The defense team had a poster-size aerial photograph ready to show Judge Anthony Epstein.
A court clerk called the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Dillon said: “At this time the United States is going to dismiss the case.” There was no elaboration. Grimm packed up his stuff and left the courtroom. Case closed.
Prosecutors had filed a misdemeanor assault charge against 22-year-old Conor Hanlon, for allegedly trying to kick a D.C. police officer during a large demonstration April 25 against the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Demonstrators clashed with police that morning. Photographs show one police officer discharging pepper spray into a crowd; another officer has his arm around the neck of a demonstrator. Here is The Washington Post write-up of the clash.
D.C. police officer Richard Mazloom, who fell to the ground in the skirmish, identified Hanlon as one of several demonstrators who stood on top of Mazloom’s legs after the officer fell. Mazloom said the demonstrators were yelling, “Keep him down!”
Hanlon, a legal assistant at the Law Offices of Thomas Crowe in D.C. whose father is a partner at Blank Rome in Philadelphia, was arrested and later released on his own recognizance. Hanlon had earlier pleaded not guilty to the assault charge. A non-jury trial had been scheduled for this morning. Hanlon, who graduated from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, and his father declined to talk about the case.
Lisa Greene, deputy chief of the general crimes section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C., was not immediately reached for comment about why the government dropped the assault charge. Dillon, the prosecutor, also was not reached for comment this afternoon. Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Friedman, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, declined to comment on the reasons why the government dropped the case against Hanlon.
Grimm said photographs and YouTube video of the demonstration revealed that Hanlon did not assault the officer that morning at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. and 20th Street. Grimm praised supervisors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, who he said “rescued” his client from a prosecution that was not supported by evidence.
“The case apparently was never properly screened. No one with courtroom experience ever gave it a second look,” Grimm, a partner at Cozen O'Connor in D.C., said after the hearing. “Fortunately for my client we found an experienced supervisor who listened to both sides and made the call to have the case dismissed.”