Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office officials have filed a formal incident report alleging “unprofessional conduct” after Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano (D) and his chief deputy allegedly objected vociferously and profanely to a security screening Sept. 28 at the Fairfax County Courthouse.
The incident drew the ire of the Sheriff’s Office; a supervisor reviewing the incident said the behavior was “unsuited for an officer of the court” and showed “disrespect and unprofessionalism” to screening personnel who were just doing their job.
Courthouse-security personnel were conducting a 100-percent screening of all employees and attorneys that day. Such screenings, which occur on random days, were implemented at the request of the Courthouse Security Committee, noted the report, obtained by the Sun Gazette.
According to the sequence of events laid out in the report – Descano and Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Kyle Manikas entered the courthouse at 9:37 a.m. and Allied security officer Jason Tremino informed the men they needed to undergo security screening.
Descano reportedly objected to the screening, citing his status as commonwealth’s attorney and Tremino told him all attorneys needed to be screened. According to the incident report, Descano allegedly threw an umbrella he was holding into the X-ray machine and began removing items from his pockets and throwing them into bins to be screened.
Two uniformed law-enforcement officers bypassed the checkpoint during the incident, and when Descano asked why that was allowed, Tremino explained that such uniformed officers were exempt from the policy.
According to the report, Descano reportedly said, “That’s bullsh–! Don’t you know who I am? I’m the top law-enforcement officer in Fairfax County.”
Manikas also was “visibly upset” as he went through the screening as well, the document read, and kept saying, “This is f—— bullsh–.”
Security officials detected what appeared to be a knife in Manikas’ lunch bag and informed the attorney a more detailed physical search of the bag was needed. Manikas claimed there was no knife in the bag, but Tremino turned the X-ray machine’s screen around to show him the image, then opened the bag and found a butter knife.
Tremino told Manikas he could keep the knife and that the screening was finished, the report read.
Allied security officer Syed Abidi informed Descano that the screening policy was at the Courthouse Security Screening Committee’s request. Descano told Abidi he was the committee’s boss – “they worked for me” – and showed the security officer his employee-identification badge, the report read.
The security officers’ superior received statements from both and reviewed a video of the incident, which occurred over a 2 minute 30 second time frame. The video corroborated the officers’ remarks, according to the report.
Officials have forwarded the report to the Sheriff’s Office’s chain of command and to Fairfax Circuit Court Chief Judge Penney Azcarate.
The Sun Gazette contacted Descano’s office via telephone and e-mail, but received no response concerning the incident report’s allegations.
According to the Sheriff’s Office’s Web page, attorneys who fill out applications and undergo background checks may obtain identification cards to bypass security screening at the courthouse most days. The new random-day screenings for all but uniformed law-enforcement officers are an extra security measure.
Descano in 2019 narrowly defeated incumbent Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Morrogh in the Democratic primary, after outside interest groups funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to left-wing challengers taking on moderate prosecutors in Fairfax and Arlington. He went on to win the general election that year, and will next face the voters in 2023.