The Fairfax County Police Greatest Hits.
The case of the Naked Guy and the Fairfax County Police.
Woman calls police: “My neighbors are fornicating in plain view!”
Cop arrives. “Well, ma’am, can you show me what’s going on?”
They go into the backyard. “Right over there,” she says, “just look.”
Right over there is an 8-foot tall brick wall.
“Ma’am, there’s a wall there.”
“Sure there is, but you can see them plain as day if you use that ladder.”
In October of 2010, the Fairfax County Police arrested a man for not wearing clothes in his house. This actually happened. A few days after the arrest, the world press ran with the story, the Fairfax County Police and once again thanks to the block headed actions of its police force, Fairfax County was the butt, pun intended, of an international joke.
The cops illegally entered the home and arrested the man for indecent exposer. They had no evidence to make the arrest and the true law breaker in the tale, a trespasser who was married to a cop, was not prosecuted. Nor were the cops who made broke into the man’s home arrested or reprimanded. They got away with it.
Eric Williamson was 29 years old at the time and s a commercial diver who grew up in Hawaii. He was renting the home with several co-workers. Williamson’s roommates had left for work by 5:30. Alone in the house he made coffee and eggs and started packing up his belongings. He had lost his job a few days earlier, and he was planning to move to his mother's house near Virginia Beach. By 9 a.m. he had gotten dressed to walk out to his car and that by 10 a.m., he was napping in his room. Police arrived about an hour later, he said.
The complaint came from an unidentified woman, the wife of a cop, who said she was walking with a child when she walked onto Williamson’s property, looked into his home and saw him naked. The house sits back from the sidewalk and separated by a large lawn and a long drive way. The woman would have to have stopped, walked on to his property, and looked past the large lawn, past a vestibule, past a living room and into his kitchen to see him naked
She (Police wouldn't release the incident report or the name of the mother who filed the complaint.) later said that Williamson was posing in a window (She later changed that to posing in a doorway) naked. In court, Williamson testified he never posed in any doorway or window as the woman said he did and had no intent to flash the pedestrians.
Williamson claimed that there was no prior relationship of any kind between him and the woman and the cop’s wife never did explain why she was walking around on a darkened sidewalk with a child at 5:30 AM on a 35 degree morning. She later changed the time to 8:00 AM and explained that she was walking the child to school but the school didn’t start until 9:00 AM. If anything, the cop’s wife probably should have been charged as a Peeping Tom. The wife went home and phoned her husband who phone his fellow cops with the complaint.
“Sha'aron” Williams, the cop who took the call said that when he arrived at Williamson’s house, the house was dark, he could see no one around and he left after a few minutes.
He returned with two other cops at 9:16, and entered the house illegally under the pretext that the entering an unlocked house was Fairfax police policy when the police suspected the property had been broken into or someone was injured or in danger inside. Under that logic, the cops could enter any persons unlocked and empty home whenever they felt like it.
Williams said that upon entering the five….five…..cops drew their weapons "just in case we encountered a hostile individual," Williams said, like the owner of the property who would expect them to have a warrant.
The cops went upstairs where they found Williamson asleep in bed with his pants on. The cops pointed their guns at him, screamed several different set of directions at him that included sit up, stay where you are, don’t move and to show his hands.
"All of a sudden, I get woken up by police officers, and this guy has a Taser gun in my face," he said. "I'm freaking out. Is this a movie? A horrible dream?" One of the five cops called him a pervert while and others looked through his belongings. One cop screamed about how Williamson was walking around in the house, naked.
"I looked straight at the cops and said, 'You're telling me that none of you guys have ever walked across your kitchen or run to the laundry room to get some pants?' "Williamson said.
An illegal search of Williamsons belonging found a traffic summons which the cops used to identify Williamson. What that means is that they had no idea who they were looking for when they illegally entered the property ready to shoot someone.
The cops, who came across as hysterical and terrified, screamed at Williamson about being naked and Williamson "he was up making coffee; he might have been in the nude." And why was that illegal?
"Yes” Williamson said “I wasn't wearing any clothes but I was alone, in my own home and just got out of bed. It was dark and I had no idea anyone was outside looking in at me"
Confused and probably realizing they were screwed for an illegal entry and search of a private property so they could tie an unknown person to what they wrongly assumed was a crime, the cops left and huddled outside and questioned each other about what to do next.
The question the cops should have asked was “What is the proof of the complaint” and there wasn’t any. At that moment Williamson walked outside to his truck, carrying an open beer and one of the cops, Stewart Struthers, asked if they could take his photo but didn’t reveal the reason he the photo, but Williamson agreed.
The cops then took the photo over the wife of the policeman who called in the complaint who said that it was the man that she said was in his house.
The cops then went back to Williamson's house and arrested him, intending to charge him with felony indecent exposure because a child was involved but the best they could get from a magistrate only charged Williamson with a misdemeanor. "I was treated like an animal. If there was something offensive, would not a knock on the door and heads-up suffice?"
One cop said that the police consulted the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office and they were given the Okay to proceed with the charge. However the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office later said they didn’t offer that advice.
So the Fairfax County Police did what they have done to so many other citizens in the past, they launched a terrorism campaign against Williamson. One of the cops called Williamson’s employer and told him that they had arrested Williamson for exposing himself to children. The employer also rented the house where Williamson lived and ordered Williamson to immediately leave the house.
The cops taunted Williamson, the father of a five year old child, and told him that he would more than probably have been forced to register as a sexual offender. They said that if he admitted what he did, they might be able to lower the charges, if not, they were certain he would be convicted and sentenced to a year in prison.
When the local press started to report what happened and dubbed Williamson “The naked coffee guy” the cops panicked and started to hand out fliers in the neighborhood asking people to report anything about the incident or others like it. The Fairfax County Police are overstaffed and have a lot of time on their hands.
The judge in the case, Ian M. O'Flaherty, likened Williamson to bank robber John Dillinger and decided that that Williamson nudity "indicates an obscene display" and found Williamson guilty of misdemeanor indecent exposure, sentenced him to 180 days in jail, but suspended the sentence.
Williamson said he was shocked by the verdict. He suggested after the hearing that he was the victim of a double standard. “If I was looking in her window, I think we’d be having a whole different conversation,” he said.
Williamson appealed his case to the county's circuit court, risking a maximum punishment of a year in jail to clear his name. On April 7, 2010 Erick Williamson was acquitted by a jury. He was found not guilty after less than 20 minutes of deliberations.
They got away with it. The cops illegally entered the home and arrested the man for indecent exposer. They had no evidence to make the arrest and the true law breaker in the tale, a trespasser who was married to a cop, was not prosecuted. Nor were the cops who made broke into the man’s home arrested or reprimanded. They got away with it. The case underlines the constant complain that the Fairfax County Police were overpaid and underworked had too much time on their hands and an incident like this would have been handled differently in another place where the police have work to do.