The old adage goes "Its all fun and games until someone gets hurt." In this case, it was all fun until a detective's Hummer got hit with a snowball. That's when the detective allegedly gets out with a gun drawn, and charges into the crowd.
It all took place in Washington, DC. Young professionals used Twitter and several networking sites across the District of Columbia to organize the snowball fight. Held at the corner of 14th and U Streets, over 200 people showed up to partake in the fun, according to The Washington Post. And, for the most part, everything seemed to be going well. Motorists would roll down their windows to shout taunts at the snowball throwers - just to be pelted with snowballs in good fun. Several Hummers were targeted by the primarily liberal audience, based on their fuel consumption and lack of environmental friendliness. And everything seemed to be going well - until the sides targeted the wrong Hummer.
That's where things turned around. According to eyewitnesses, the detective (identified in videos as "Detective Baylor") got out of his car, and pulled out a gun to the crowd. According to videos taken by witnesses, the detective held a handgun while appearing to speak on a police radio.
The first statement made by D.C. Metropolitan Police claimed that the detective, who was not officially identified in the statement, did not pull a gun on the crowd. That's when the young technology-based audience turned to Twitter, among other websites, to provide video proof of a man, identifying himself as a detective, holding a handgun in the midst of the meleé. The story made it quickly across the wires, being reported on by the Washington Post, the AP, and several other news agencies. D.C. Metro Police, after seeing the video, say that the detective is now on desk duty, and a formal investigation is pending.
The snowball fight was the idea of 25-year-old Yousef Ali, who used his personal Twitter account and blog to promote the event. Within hours of broadcasting the message using the social networking site, over 200 people showed up to the intersection to take part in the fight. The idea was so well received, the message was even posted on the DC Department of Transportation's Twitter page.
"Basically, I used a lot of my social media promotions techniques and on Twitter to really push this thing pretty big," Ali told the Washington Press. "I pretty much did this consistently until about 5 in the morning on Saturday..."
While the event was a success, the ultimate reaction by the police turned a good idea to a bad public relations event. While its natural to be upset about being hit by snowballs, this could constitute an excessive use of force on the detective's part. According to DC Metro Assistant Police Chief Pete Newsham, this could result in action against the detective.
Want to see the proof for yourself? Click here to see video of the alleged actions taken by the detective (Warning: the video contains strong language and imagery - viewer discretion is advised, and may potentially be NSFW).
Was this a blatant misuse of force? Leave me a comment with your thoughts!