The office of Washington, D.C., Democrat Mayor Muriel Bowser confirmed on Wednesday that Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Chris Geldart, 53, was suspended for allegedly grabbing a man by the neck outside a gym on October 1. In a statement, Bowser’s office downplayed the alleged assault and battery, suggesting it “sounds like something that happens to a lot of people — a dispute over something minor.”
According to Arlington Police, around 12:25 p.m. on Saturday, outside Gold’s Gym in Arlington, Virginia, Geldart got into a verbal confrontation with a smaller man, Dustin Woodard. Woodard works as a trainer at the gym.
The shouting began after the door of the deputy mayor’s parked car allegedly struck a vehicle belonging to the victim’s girlfriend. The interaction escalated, and Geldart allegedly seized Woodard by the throat.
After the incident, Geldart drove away. He was later informed by telephone of a warrant pertaining to assault and battery charges, at which time he turned himself in. Geldart was ultimately released on a summons.
Woodard told WTTG that Geldart is “way too big to be trying to be a bully, especially with his position. Something should be done.”
“We’ve been dealing with him for a while at Gold’s,” said Woodard, alluding to multiple other instances in which the deputy mayor allegedly abused his power at the gym.
Geldart has been charged with assault and battery and placed on administrative leave. He has been the deputy mayor since January 2021.
Geldart was previously director of the Department of Public Works. He resigned from the post shortly after the Office of the Inspector General issued a report claiming he had committed two ethics violations, including having used his government office to benefit a “close personal acquaintance.”
In 2017, four Bowser-appointed members of the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability dismissed a formal investigation into Geldart regarding potential ethics violations, having found “there was insufficient evidence to support a reasonable belief that a violation occurred.”
Geldart has also served as director of the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency.
Woodard told WUSA9 that while it was prudent to “show some compassion for him in this matter,” what Geldart did “was wrong and shouldn’t go unpunished.”
“Do I feel that he should be in the position that he’s in now? No, I don’t,” added Woodard.
When a WTTG reporter presented the footage of her deputy allegedly assaulting Woodard, Mayor Bowser refused to look or respond.
According to police, during the incident, Geldart was cursing and shouting, and it was this that prompted Woodward to turn around and tell him to “shut up.” The alleged choking can be seen in the footage obtained by WTTG.