District Man Pleads Guilty to Bias-Related Assault in Confrontation With Employees at Fast-Food Restaurant

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Courtroom gavel. FILE PHOTO: REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/Illustration

            WASHINGTON – Johnnie Williamson, 36, of Washington, D.C. has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from two violent confrontations that took place in 2020, including one that was prosecuted as a hate crime, U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves announced today.

            Williamson pleaded guilty on Feb. 9, 2022, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, to one count of bias-related assault and one count of attempted possession of a prohibited weapon. Williamson had been in custody while awaiting trial ever since his arrest in March 2021. He was sentenced today by the Honorable Jason Park to 450 days of incarceration; however, all of that time was suspended, with credit for the time he has already served, on the condition that he successfully complete one year of supervised probation. As a condition of probation, Williamson must participate in mental health treatment and supervision.

            According to the government’s evidence, the first incident took place on June 14, 2020. At approximately 1:45 p.m., Williamson pulled a knife during an argument with an individual while inside of Union Station.

            The second incident took place at approximately 8:40 p.m. on Dec. 27, 2020. Williamson entered a Chipotle restaurant in the 2300 block of Washington Place NE. He asked an employee how much food he could purchase with approximately $8. The employee tried to assist. But due to a language barrier, she had difficulty communicating, and so she asked her manager to assist. The manager informed Williamson what was available on the menu for under $8.

            Williamson was not satisfied with the answer, and immediately began yelling a series of xenophobic, ethnic, and transphobic slurs at the employee and the manager.

            As Williamson yelled these slurs, he climbed onto the service counter and spit on the employee. He then reached over the counter and began throwing food and serving spoons at the employee, striking her in the hand. After throwing the spoons, Williamson then pushed the cash register off the counter. He picked up a fire extinguisher and threw it at the manager, striking her in the leg. Williamson continued yelling slurs throughout the incident. Finally, as he moved towards the exit, he shouted that he was going to return and kill the employees. Williamson was arrested on March 5, 2021.

            In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Graves commended the work of those who investigated the case from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). He also expressed appreciation for the efforts of those who worked on the matter from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorney Travis Wolf, who investigated and prosecuted the case.