WASHINGTON (Circa) — Grace Maria says she was headed back into her office in Washington, D.C. when she noticed a homeless man involved in a confrontation with police.
The video begins with a police officer holding a gun toward the man named Anthony. Anthony is speaking to Grace as she records what is happening saying, "You see him trying to shoot me, I ain't done nothing to nobody." The officer then replies "on the ground" motioning for Anthony to lie on the ground.
Anthony is looking to Grace for support and asks her "You saw me sleeping right?" The police officer then asks Grace to move away from the scene because Anthony has a knife, but she continues to stay where she is. She also pans her camera to show the knife Anthony possessed at the time. Anthony then tries to explain to the officer that he doesn't have any other knives beside the weapon taken away by police. The officer then tells Anthony once again to get on the ground and is urged by Grace to do the same.
"This is not worth dying for, this is not worth dying for," Grace tells Anthony. "Just listen to him, this is not worth dying for. They're killing us out here. This is not worth dying for. This s*** is not worth dying for."
Eventually, Anthony cooperates with police and lies on the ground with his hands to his back. The 39-second video already has over 1 million views on Twitter. Grace, known as @_Guccigracee on Twitter, posted the video saying "I literally think I just saved someone’s life... I’m shaking y’all..."
It was later discovered that Anthony is a homeless man in his early 20's who sleeps at Union Station in Washington, D.C. The man was profiled by a YouTube page dedicated to the homeless called Invisible People.
During the interview, which took place in March, Anthony said he's been homeless for two years and was placed in this predicament after his mom died from colon cancer. She was his primary provider, according to what he told the YouTube channel.
Grace is being hailed as a hero by many on social media who have watched the video.
Grace. You are an angel. I’m so thankful you were there 💛 you did save someone’s life today— leen (@OmgColleen_) November 7, 2018
you definitely did save his life, and thanks so much for your moral and physical courage!— tħeØnetħeÖnlyMôldy (@MoldyWarp) November 7, 2018
Thanks for telling him to comply, too many times we let our pride get in the way and don’t realize that submitting and laying on the ground with hands behind our Back can save our lives and won’t always result in an arrest. I’ve been thru that before and it’s humiliating af— vicsace veli (@vicsaceveli) November 8, 2018
Bought tears to my eyes.. you can tell he’s going through something in life.. but he doesn’t want to die.— Lilly 🌸 (@Its___Lilly) November 7, 2018
Thank you for calming him down 🙏🏾..
One Twitter user says this is an example of how police mistreat the homeless in Washington, D.C.
I’m pissed cause I know exactly where you’re at and The way MPD treats the cities entire homeless population like criminals is crazy.— Currently Being Hazed by Grad School (@MadDapr) November 7, 2018
He had a knife, was he using it?
But another Twitter user says the officer had the right to defend themselves because Anthony was in possession of a weapon.
The guy had a weapon and wasn’t following instructions. The police have a right to defend themselves too how does the police officer know he doesn’t have another weapon like a gun?— Gringo Starr (@MattyFightsEvil) November 7, 2018
Grace spoke to Circa via Twitter Direct Message (full disclosure: Grace and the author attended the same college over a two-year span) and said that she used to be homeless as well, which is why she could tell he was too.
"It was traumatic for sure but I’m thankful it didn't get worse either," Grace said. "They said he had a knife but he’s homeless so he probably had it for protection."
She has started a GoFundMe page to help Anthony find a place to stay. She says he hopes to open up an orphanage one day as well as a feeding program.
"Anthony almost lost his life today but I’m glad that he didn’t. His life matters. All humans lives are precious. I used to be homeless and having people to support me literally saved my life. Please if you can, donate. Anything you can donate is enough," Grace wrote on the page.
In a statement, U.S. Capitol Police say Anthony has been charged with Assault on a Police Officer While Armed; Carrying a Dangerous Weapon; and Possession of a Prohibited Weapon.
Here is their full statement:
At approximately 3:40 p.m. on Wednesday, November 7, 2018, a United States Capitol Police (USCP) Officer observed an individual matching the description of a lookout issued by the Metropolitan Police Department for a man with a large knife.
The USCP Officer attempted to stop the Suspect, but he was agitated and uncooperative and began walking away toward the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Second Street, NE. The Officer commanded the Suspect to stop, but instead the Suspect drew a knife and turned toward the Officer. The Officer drew his service weapon and commanded the Suspect to drop the knife. The Suspect eventually complied with the Officer’s commands, but continued to walk away. The Officer continued to give multiple commands to stop as the Suspect dropped several more knives onto the ground. The Suspect ultimately complied with the Officer’s commands and was placed under arrest and transported to USCP Headquarters for processing.
The Suspect was charged with Assault on a Police Officer While Armed; Carrying a Dangerous Weapon; and Possession of a Prohibited Weapon.