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Being a Good Samaritan almost got Alphonso Williams killed when a D.C. police officer shot him in the head while he was lying handcuffed on the ground, according to a federal lawsuit seeking $5.5 million in damages from the D.C. government. In September 2005, Williams was sleeping in his girlfriend Regina Cooley’s apartment on 3rd Street in Northwest Washington when she called police because of an argument outside between her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend. “He went down to intervene and calm the situation down,” says attorney Michael O’Keefe, who filed the suit last year with co-counsel James Bailey. The argument was already over when D.C. Metropolitan Police Sgt. Timothy Steffes arrived, but he ordered Williams, who protested that he wasn’t involved in the dispute, to lie face down on the ground and handcuffed him, the suit states. Another officer already on the scene told Steffes that Williams was not the suspect, O’Keefe says. Nevertheless, Steffes “unholstered his handgun, placed the barrel to [Williams'] head and told him to �shut the fuck up,’ ” the complaint states. Steffes then pulled the trigger and shot Williams in the head, but by luck the bullet grazed his scalp rather than penetrating his skull, causing Williams to urinate on himself, the complaint states. Williams was treated for the head injury at Howard University Hospital before Steffes and other officers falsely charged him with assault on a police officer “to protect themselves from civil and criminal liability,” the suit states. The felony charge was later dismissed in D.C. Superior Court and expunged from Williams’ record. Steffes denies that Williams didn’t do anything to provoke his use of force, and he also denies shooting Williams, according to the government’s response to the suit. Steffes, who works in the 5th District, did not return a phone call last week seeking comment. A settlement conference is scheduled for June.
Brendan Smith can be contacted at [email protected].

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