WASHINGTON — A man who officials said had announced he was armed before he was shot this month by a Secret Service officer near the White House was apparently holding a comb, according to new court documents.
Myron Berryman, 51, was charged with one count of assault on a police officer in the incident and has been hospitalized since the Aug. 10 shooting. Berryman’s first hearing on the misdemeanor charge was held Thursday afternoon in D.C. Superior Court. His lawyer said he has been moved to a psychiatric hospital.
According to initial charging documents and Secret Service officials, Berryman walked up to the uniformed officer and said he was armed. Charging papers say Berryman reached along the right side of his body as if to retrieve an object, clasped his hands together and pointed his arms toward the officer. The officer then shot Berryman once in the torso. No weapon was found.
Additional charging documents filed Wednesday revealed that a black object was seen falling from Berryman’s hands when he was shot and that a comb was found at the scene.
According to the documents, another uniformed officer at the scene told investigators he heard the officer who shot Berryman say he had not found a gun where the shooting occurred and “stated words to the effect that … I think it was a comb.” The officer who shot Berryman, according to the charging documents, realized “after the shooting that the item was not a gun, but rather a comb.”
Two officials who had viewed an internal police report of the incident have told The Washington Post that the report said Berryman shouted, “I’m going to kill you. I’m going to shoot you.” Those allegations were not mentioned in any of the charging papers.
According to the initial documents, the uniformed officer was standing at his post at Pennsylvania Avenue and 17th Street Northwest, on the west side of the White House. Berryman was walking eastbound on Pennsylvania Avenue. When Berryman reached the officer, video of the encounter showed he “appeared to make a comment,” according to the documents. The officer, whose name has not been released, then called in over the radio saying there was a man on Pennsylvania Avenue who “says he’s armed.”
Berryman’s attorney Daniel Dorsey said in an interview that his client did not make comments threatening to kill anyone.
Berryman did not appear in court for his arraignment. Berryman, Dorsey said, was discharged from one hospital and moved to the District’s Psychiatric Institute of Washington, where he has been under observation.
Prosecutors said in court they did not object to Berryman remaining under medical care as the case proceeds. Another court date was set for January.
In the new charging documents, officers said they interviewed Berryman two days after the shooting as he was in the hospital. Berryman told the officers he did not remember the incident. He also told the officers he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and that before the shooting he had been hospitalized and then stayed at a residential treatment facility. Berryman said he left that facility the day of the shooting.
While lying handcuffed to his hospital bed, according to the documents, Berryman also told the officers that he had stopped taking his medication for his mental illness three years earlier, but had resumed his medication when he was hospitalized.
Dorsey declined to comment further on his client’s case.
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The Washington Post’s Peter Hermann contributed to this report.