A Pentagon cop accused of fatally shooting two men he “thought” were stealing a car in the parking lot of his Maryland condo complex this week has a history of whipping out guns in his building, according to video from last year that now has law enforcement scrutinizing the officer more closely.
David Hall Dixon aimed a firearm at a homeless woman in the lobby of his apartment complex one evening in May 2020 and barked at her to leave, footage shows. Takoma Park Police plan to bring charges against him “for his actions in assaulting” her, WJLA reports.
Dixon had reportedly told the woman to exit the building after a series of disruptions. When she did not, he returned to his apartment and brought back what appeared to be a shotgun. He pointed the weapon at her and repeated his commands to vacate the premises, and she did, wheeling a red shopping cart out with her. Dixon followed her through the doors. He did not fire the gun.
Dixon, an officer with the Pentagon Force Protection Agency since 2019, has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder for allegedly killing Dominique Williams, a 32-year-old Hyattsville resident, and James Lionel Johnson, a 38-year-old District Heights resident, in the parking lot of the same building on Wednesday morning.
Dixon was arrested Friday and remains in jail without bond. He has been put on administrative leave from the Pentagon Force.
Relatives described the two victims as best friends. Johnson was a father of three, including an infant. His cousin Marcus Cornegay said in a press conference on Friday: “He treated everyone that crossed his path with love and respect, like they were family. We as a family are really struggling with this trying to put logic around why he was taken from us.”
A family attorney, David Haynes, said Johnson and Williams were “shot and killed in cold blood, for no reason, with no justification.”
Takoma Park Police said that when their officers arrived on the scene at about 5 a.m. Wednesday, Dixon approached them and said he’d seen what he “thought” was an attempted car theft.
According to charging documents reported on by The Washington Post, Dixon identified himself as an off-duty Pentagon officer and told the police that he was leaving for work when he noticed a Lexus, with its headlights off, driving through the parking lot.
He said he saw one of the men in the Lexus trying to break the window of another car in the parking lot earlier. He said he confronted the men in the Lexus but they “gassed it,” and attempted to run him over, prompting him to open fire.
But surveillance footage showed Dixon firing as the car drove away, the charging documents say.
While authorities determined that an attempted car theft had indeed taken place, they said the car with the three men inside “no longer presented an immediate threat that would have justified the use of deadly force.”
Takoma Park Police Chief Antonio DeVaul said on Friday that Dixon had “no lawful or justifiable reason” for firing his service weapon: “He was a civilian who acted as a civilian, who happened to be a law enforcement officer in another jurisdiction.”
DeVaul added that Dixon’s overview of events “was inconsistent with the evidence and facts in the case.”
Williams and Johnson were driven to nearby St. George’s hospital for treatment of gunshot wounds in their upper backs, wounds a medical examiner said were consistent with being fired on from behind. Both died there.
A third man, Michael Thomas, 36, was driving the car. Dixon faces additional charges of attempted second-degree murder for opening fire on Thomas, as well as reckless endangerment and use of a handgun in commission of a felony. Thomas has not been charged with a crime.
Dixon is not alone on the Pentagon Force in drawing his service weapon while off-duty. Another officer shot a 16-year-old he alleged was robbing him the evening of March 24 in Washington, D.C.
The acting director of the bureau said leaders would conduct trainings in response to both incidents “to ensure [officers] have a full understanding of their off-duty responsibilities.”