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UPPER MARLBORO – On the same day, the Prince George’s Police Department (PGPD) confirmed the arrest of one of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives right after a veteran police officer was indicted on charges of assaulting a suspect during an arrest.
Lamont Stephenson, 43, was arrested after police found him inside in a rental company truck parked outside of a closed business at approximately 2 a.m. on March 7.
Three county officers responded to a suspicious call sent in by the security system watching over the rental trucks on the 7900 block of Annapolis Road.
According to Police Chief Hank Stawinski, when officers approached Stephenson, he allegedly told them that he was homeless and trying to stay dry from the inclement weather.
However, after further questioning, Stephenson allegedly told the officers may be wanted for crimes. He was taken into custody once his identity was confirmed and a weapon was recovered at the scene.
Stawinski said that he is proud of the officers’ willingness to confront Stephenson and going above protocol for a standard suspicious person call.
“We run that call for service and our peers all over the country run that call for service every day, and they could have easily said ‘you’re not supposed to be in that truck; get out and go walk down the street,’” Stawinski said. “These officers took that a step further and look what at the result is.”
He was placed on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitive list in Oct. 2018 for his alleged involvement in the murder by asphyxiation of his fiancée, Olga DeJesus, 40, along with her dog in Newark, New Jersey on Oct. 17, 2014. FBI officials believed in 2014 that he would be hiding in North Carolina, Virginia or South Carolina.
Stephenson is also wanted for the murder of Natina Kiah, 40, of Washington, D.C. on March 6, the night before PGPD captured him. According to the Metropolitan Police Department, officials responded to a welfare check call and found Kiah dead from a stab wound on the 5000 block of D Street, Southeast at approximately 8:30 p.m.
He was placed in the custody of the FBI shortly following his arrest, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will decide the location for his trial, Stawinski said.
“The Top 10 Most Wanted Fugitives List was created for this reason,” FBI Field Office Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Jennifer Moore said. “To bring attention to those individuals who fled across state lines (and) to obtain citizens’ help in their capture.”
Earlier in the day, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha N. Braveboy announced that a seven-year veteran of the department had been indicted on misdemeanor charges for assaulting a person during an arrest.
An indictment against Corporal Stephen Downey was given by a grand jury, charging him with second-degree assault and misconduct in office, related to an incident that occurred last October. Downey responded to an incident at a CVS Pharmacy in Temple Hills as an individual, described as a black male, sat inside in the front seat of a police car with handcuffs and wearing a seat belt.
According to Braveboy, Downey punched the “individual in custody numerous times in the face.” Police officials confirmed the event and said that an officer on the scene notified his supervisor. Once the department’s Internal Affairs Division finish its own investigation, it forwarded its findings to the State’s Attorney’s Office.
“Our police officers are charged with enforcing the law, so an incident like this one is of great concern to us,” said Braveboy. “The citizens of Prince George’s County deserve to be protected by officers who operate with the highest degree of trust and professionalism.”
Stawinski confirmed that the department is going to allow the criminal case to “play out” before making an administrative decision on Downey but did not rule out termination. Downey is currently suspended with pay after only being charged with misdemeanors. He was assigned to the Bureau of Patrol.
“What I can tell you is that certainly after these allegations were made, that officer was suspended and has remained suspended and will remain suspended through the trial process until this has been concluded,” Stawinski said.
Negative officer behavior and the response towards misconduct was a part of a discrimination lawsuit filed on Dec. 12 by 11 police officers and two labor organizations, citing discriminatory practices by the agency. The suit alleged that white officers engaged in racial misconduct towards colleagues and citizens while little discipline was conducted by department leadership.