United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
359 F.3d 609 (D.C. Cir. 2004)
On November, 1, 2001, Gerald F. Whitmore (defendant) was standing with a group of people next to a bus stop when a police officer, Bladden Russell, came up to them and ordered them to disperse. When approached by Russell, Whitmore fled. Russell noticed that Whitmore was holding the right side of his jacket. Whitmore eluded Russell, but another police officer, Efrain Soto, gave chase. Soto also saw Whitmore holding the right side of his jacket and then saw Whitmore throw a gun toward an apartment building. Soto apprehended Whitmore and then found a gun in the window well of the apartment building. The gun showed signs of having been thrown against a building, as it had scuff marks, a piece of brick lodged in its sight, and was covered in masonry dust. Soto also found a small bag of cocaine in Whitmore’s pocket. At trial, Whitmore was precluded from calling witnesses who would testify under Federal Rule of Evidence 608(a) that Soto did not have a truthful character. One, Jason Cherkis, was a reporter who wrote an article in January 2000 that Soto and other officers were the targets of multiple complaints from neighborhood residents. The second witness, Bruce Cooper, was a local criminal defense attorney who would testify that Soto had a reputation for dishonesty within the court community. The third witness, Kenneth Edmonds, was a former resident of the neighborhood, who visited often, who would testify that Soto wrongly arrested Edmonds for drug possession in 1995. Whitmore was also denied the opportunity to cross-examine Soto on the suspension of Soto’s driver’s license, Soto’s failure to report the suspension to his supervisors, and Soto’s failure to pay child support. Whitmore was convicted by a jury on firearm and drug charges and appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Henderson, J.)
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