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Man who stabbed Maryland deputy in fight bar lawsuit, says investigation unfair

A man who stabbed a deputy on leave during a brawl at a bar in Prince George County, Md., Sues the county police department, saying its investigation was unfair and ignored the critical details of what had happened.

In December 2018, Christopher Dewitt said he was having a drink inside the Sunnybrook Tavern in Fort Washington, MD, when he was approached by someone he didn’t know. Dewitt said the man threw food in front of him at the bar and called him a racial insult.

“I was like, ‘Who are you talking to?’ like, ‘I’m talking to you.’ So we had a physical altercation, ”Dewitt said.

The man who approached Dewitt was Charles County MP Robert Smith, who was off duty, according to an arrest report obtained by News4.

The report says Smith placed his unfinished food in front of Dewitt, but does not confirm the alleged racist insult Dewitt says he made. The report describes an altercation and appears to describe Dewitt as the assailant.

Dewitt admits he stabbed Smith with a pocket knife he was carrying. He said it was in self-defense because he felt threatened and outnumbered.

“We started to fight. So his brother and his father came and it was like they were trying to jump on me. So at that moment when his brother pushed me against the wall, I ‘Reached my pocket, grabbed my knife and stabbed it, ”Dewitt said.

Surveillance video shows Smith then pulls out what the Charles County Sheriff’s Office says is his personal gun.

People inside the tavern take cover as Smith’s brother appears to calm him down. Some people called 911.

The Prince George County Police Department and the Charles County Sheriff’s Office issued press releases detailing the stabbing and arrest of Dewitt, but Dewitt’s attorney said they had omitted critical information.

“We really believe there were gaps and that is part of the reason Prince George County itself is a defendant in this lawsuit,” said attorney Brandon Burrell.

According to medical records obtained by Dewitt’s attorneys, Smith was drunk when he first approached Dewitt and drew his gun.

“He’s armed with a gun. He’s four times the legal driving limit.… He pulls out his gun in a crowded bar,” Burrell said.

In the police report, Prince George officers said Smith “had indicated his recollection was unclear due to the amount of alcohol he had consumed.”

The Charles County Sheriff’s Office statement on the incident mentioned that a deputy on leave would be investigated, but did not disclose Smith’s name and did not mention that he had drunk while handling a firearm, a violation of departmental policies.

A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said Smith was sanctioned but did not disclose details due to state personnel laws that protect officers.

Dewitt, meanwhile, spent 30 days in jail after being initially denied bail.

The Prince George County State Attorney’s Office confirms it did not prosecute Dewitt after reviewing the video and other evidence. His charges of assault and reckless endangerment were dropped. Dewitt says he’s still dealing with what happened in the tavern.

“I lost my job because of this situation. I mean, I lost all around the board,” Dewitt said.

News4’s request for an interview with Smith or his lawyer was denied.


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Richard Dement

The author Richard Dement