Qualia staff assaulted by spitting suspect

Man seen spitting water at a Qualia employee (screen capture from survellance video.)

File under the "Seriously, what?" category. A man who reportedly has a reputation of being a bad customer at various establishments in DC took his most recent belligerence to a new level by assaulting employees of Qualia Coffee.

On Monday, January 22nd, as customers and staff went about their business at the coffee shop at 3917 Georgia Avenue NW, a man walked in and went right up to employee Allie Viall who was working behind the counter. This man is well-known at Qualia already for causing issues. 

"The guy has been coming in for the entirety of my time at Qualia, about three years, and then some. He had never done anything wildly out-of-line to myself or any other staff members, but was consistently invasive, disrespectful, demeaning and misogynistic," Allie said.

One past example of his behavior, according to Allie, was when he was abusive to one of the other female employees. "He would ask my co-workers what my name was, but never asked me. He shouted, in the middle of our packed store, that my coworker was, 'The prettiest girl in DC!' First of all, she's a grown woman, not a girl, and his assessment of her appearance was certainly not requested or required. I remember vividly how angry and upset he made her."

"The moment I officially had no time for his bullshit was after we had the Luke's Diner-Gilmore Girls event," Allie said. "We kept the prop sign "NO CELL PHONES" up on our bulletin board. Of course it's rude when customers are in the middle of a phone conversation and try to order from us, but there's no rule about cell phone usage in place at Qualia, and if there was, it would be enforced by staff. He took it upon himself to tell a female customer to get off her phone. I vaguely heard the exchange, but because I wasn't certain of what I had heard, I waited until he left, and confirmed with the customer. I apologized for his behavior, told her he's always an asshole, and promptly put a sticky note on the sign that reads "NO PATRIARCHY." It's still there to this day."

Screen capture of the man caught on camera spitting at Qualia staff on January 22nd.

In a Washington City Paper article on the assault, Peyton Sherwood, co-owner of The Midlands shared this anecdote about the man in the video:

"It seems to be a lot of women have bad interactions with him," says Peyton Sherwood. He's a co-owner of several bars in D.C. including The Midlands. "He was kicked out of Kangaroo Boxing Club and just about everything on 11th Street [NW]." (Sherwood was a partner in Kangaroo Boxing Club.)

On Facebook, Sherwood pointed out that the suspect has quite the nickname — Baby Dick. "Why? Because he was kicked out of Meridian Pint one day for being super drunk and an asshole," he writes. "Once they finally got him outside past their patio he decided to pull his pants down and show his junk. Some woman yelled out, “Oh you’ve got a baby dick!” and the whole patio started chanting 'baby dick' over and over until he ran away."

Meridian Pint general manager Drew Swift confirms the incident and says it took place in 2011 or 2012. "The chant was really loud by the time he left and our staff will not call him anything but Baby Dick so he stopped coming in," Swift says. "We win?" 

"You see him coming and you’re like, god damn it," Sherwood continues. "This past summer I was managing The Midlands and I looked up and he was in the bar with a beer and I was like, 'Oh crap.'"

Sherwood also says the spitter is known to shove women walking down the sidewalk. "He’s very dangerous," he says. "I would love to never see this guy on the streets of D.C. again. He probably needs some mental assistance."

Allie said the last incident Qualia staff had with him was in the late Fall when the man interrupted Allie as she was assisting another customer to ask if he could borrow Allie's lighter. She declined to give it to him.

“So you have one, and you’re not going to let me use it?” he asked her. Allie responsed, “Yup, I find your entitlement irritating.”

The next day the man returned to Qualia while Allie was not working, and started asking for “the head ho.” Qualia staff told him not to come back to the coffee shop after that. "At a lot of other workplaces and in a past social climate, I think staff would have been expected to 'let it go' and his rude comments would've been considered harmless," Allie said. "For us, it was finally grounds to ask him to stay away. It was a very clear sign of a bigger problem."

On this particular day this week, the man walked into the coffee shop and went right up to the counter.

"He saw me, walked right up, and I immediately told him he had to leave, and explained it was because of the event that had happened a few months ago," Allie said. "I told him 'The last time you were here, I believe you referred to me as a 'ho.' I told him again that he had to leave, and if he came back again we'd have to call the cops. I stayed fairly calm. I looked away for a second, and that's when he chose to assault me. A coward through and through."

Allie said she called 911 immediately, and MPD responded within a few minutes. 

Allie said other customers handled the situation pretty well. "One customer, the one seen in the video, was caught in the cross-spray. She offered her assistance to the police, and handled it wonderfully. Other customers helped to ID what he was wearing and which way he had gone. They were very kind, understanding, and helpful," she said.

According to Qualia owner Joel Finkelstein in a recent Facebook post, a warrant for the man is forthcoming. (He was recognized by several people from the video Qualia posted on Monday.)

"Thanks everyone for your help, support, and solidarity! We have passed all pertinent information on to MPD, and a warrant is forthcoming. We'll make an announcement once it has been issued, so that if any of you wonderful, supportive neighbors spot him, or have a problem with him, you can contact 911, and report that you've sighted a wanted person. Please DO NOT confront him. I want this done by the book!"

Hopefully this man gets some mental health assistance.