City Desk

Pershing Park Case: Now It’s All About The Cover Up; Nickles Faces Huge Test In U.S. District Court

Peter Nickles

On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan slammed the District's lawyers for how it has severely mishandled evidence in a civil case brought by plantiffs who were arrested in Pershing Park in September 2002.

Sullivan focused particularly on AG Peter Nickles. The Post writes:

"Sullivan ordered D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles to submit a sworn declaration detailing his office's shoddy work and the steps he was taking to fix the problems.

Sullivan said he would impose 'severe' monetary sanctions on the D.C. government and urged Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) to 'settle this case soon.' 'This kind of conduct is not acceptable,' Sullivan said, calling the actions of D.C. government lawyers 'abysmal' and urging the D.C. Council to investigate the attorney general's office.'"

You can read Sullivan's full statement to the court here. So what provoked the judge's anger?

Pershing Park is the scandal that just won't go away. On the morning of September 27, 2002, D.C. Police had set about to monitor anti-IMF/World Bank demonstrators. By then, the protests and the policing of the protests had become routine, almost boring. There were no major acts of violence, vandalism or unrest that day.

But then the police decided to move on people in Pershing Park. They had funneled protesters into the park. Video taken of the park shows the protesters looking bored, sitting around. There were also other non-protesters in the park including nurses in town for a convention, and lawyers on their way to work.  Without warning, police rounded them up and arrested them all.

Police then transferred the mass to its training  academy in Blue Plains; each citizen was then hogtied and left on a mat for hours. They were all arrested for "failure to obey" an officer's order.

We wrote  a cover story on the arrests. Cathy Lanier had a hand in developing the hogtie tactic.

The controversial arrests hounded then-Chief Charles Ramsey. Then-Councilmember Kathy Patterson conducted an investigation into the incident and issued a devastating report.

The report concluded that Ramsey and Co. did not have probable cause to arrest anyone in Pershing Park, failed to give any orders to the people in Pershing Park (they were arrested for "failure to obey"), and went on to question whether Ramsey lied to the council in his testimonies.

For the past five years, plantiffs attorneys had been asking for the most basic documentation of the Pershing Park incident. They had been requesting items that should not have surprised anyone at the Attorney General's Office or the D.C. Police Department.

The attorneys had asked for the radio runs concerning Pershing Park—the back-and-forth communications between officers and officials on the scene. And they had asked for the running resume from the command center which would have amounted to another very basic back-and-forth database documentation of what all police officials knew at the time and what orders were given. This is basic accountability stuff.

For the past five years, plantiffs attorneys could never get these items. Even worse, the radio runs they did receive appear to have been doctored.

The Running Resume

In its motion for sanctions, plantiffs attorneys write:

"The District has destroyed or lost the Joint Operations Command Center 'running resume,' which is the central repository of all acts taken and events observed and decisions made by law enforcement on September 27, 2002. While the District falsely claimed it never existed, the [plantiffs] were able to prove that there were no less than 12 hard copies of this electronically generated document provided to key command in the MPD, including then-Chief of Police Charles H. Ramsey."

The motion for sanctions goes on to state that not only were there 12 copies made of the running resume but there were also "two redundant electronic data file or data base back-ups created." These electronic versions have never been turned over to the plantiffs.

The plantiffs go on to state that the loss or destruction of the resume occurred after a police official—Sgt. Douglas Jones—turned over the data dump to his superior.

From there, the trail for the running resume goes cold. No one will say what happened to the data. There is no evidence that it was not received by the general counsel's office.

In an earlier protester lawsuit stemming from the anti-IMF/World Bank activities on April 2002, D.C. Police denied that the running resume's existence. The denials stopped after Sgt. Jones testified in deposition that he handed the resume over not once but twice to the police department's general counsel. He also was able to recover his own e-mails to the counsel's office as well as the data base. At that point, D.C. Police suddenly disclosed that its counsel had the data base all along.

In that case, Judge John D. Bates sanctioned the District for "a clear case of sanctionable discovery misconduct." He ordered the District to pay roughly $100,000 for the misconduct. The running resume showed that the FBI had interrogated the activists.

Bates ruled: "It is clear that the District not only should have known about the existence of the running resume, but individuals with the District did know about the running resume."

It's not like MPD did not know the lawsuits related to Pershing Park were coming.

Plaintiffs state that within one week of the mass arrests,  MPD Inspector James Crane stated in deposition that General Counsel Harris "called me up, and it was shortly after the protest and said he'd like to, in advance of any litigation, he wanted to get copies" of the recorded police communications.

The D.C. council had requested the running resume during its investigation. Plantiffs argue that D.C. Police tried to pass off to the council a different document as the running resume. "The Council was never given this crucial document nor told it was destroyed or withheld," the lawyers state. "The running resume is the key to all claims. It is gone, and the prejudice is massive."

The attorneys go on to state: "It is remarkable, even unbelievable, that the MPD could 'lose' all of the many hard and computer copies of the running resume."

"I think that this is an astonishing destruction of documents," plaintiffs attorney Carl Messineo tells City Desk.  "That responsibility lay at the doorstep of Peter Nickles. This indicates misconduct that permeates the entire legal representation for the District of Columbia and MPD in other protest cases."

The Radio Runs

District lawyers did hand over radio runs across multiple channels to the Pershing Park plantiffs. But there was a catch.

Key segments of the radio communications had been erased. What was erased? The critical minutes leading up to the arrests and any communications during the arrests themselves. On one channel, there was a gap of at least 45 minutes. There were gaps on the other channels as well during the period of the decision making and execution of the arrests.

"The District has not accounted for these erasures or gaps, which were uncovered after intensive discovery efforts by Plaintiffs. In response to a discovery order ordering an accounting, the District submitted a materially false sworn statement to the Court regarding the radio runs," lawyers state.

On October 30, 2007, the District was ordered by the courts to account for "any technical difficulties, questions regarding authenticity, or unaccounted for periods of time in the produced audio tapes."

Plaintiffs argued in their sanctions motion that the District never complied with the 2007 order.

Plaintiffs got a sets of tapes three to four times–each set was different and incomplete. With each set of tapes, the lawyers still noticed gaps at the most crucial times (say when the people were arrested in Pershing Park) but the gaps varied in length. In other words, each set of tapes appears to be doctored in a different way.

Denise Alexander, communications technication employeed by the D.C. Police, submitted an affadavit in which she stated that there were nothing deficient about the tapes.

In Crane's deposition, he admitted that there was indeed issues with recordings. "I believe that there is an issue that not all the recordings are present," Crane admitted. "I do recognize there's an issue with the lack of recordings."

After the Crane deposition, the District produced a new set of audio tapes. Again, the tapes have gaps—not the same gaps—but similar critical gaps around the time of the arrests.

"This is a case that has been transformed from a case which revealed a willingness of the MPD to engage in mass civil rights violations into a scandal that reveals the willingness of the MPD and its legal representatives to destroy documents after those documents are clearly relevant in litigation," Messineo says. "It's now a case about a cover up."

Veteran city attorney Thomas Koger, who is handling the case, refused to comment for this story. “I’m not authorized to speak about any topics.  Mr. Nickles is authorized," Koger says. “Mr. Nickles would be handling any questions about that.”

Nickles did not return calls seeking comment.

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Comments

  1. #1

    to view a partial list of crimes committed by FBI agents over 1500 pages long see
    http://www.forums.signonsandiego.com/showthread.php?t=59139

    to view a partial list of FBI agents arrested for pedophilia see
    http://www.dallasnews.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=3574

  2. #2

    Cops acting badly again. Obama missed a prime teaching moment to talk about cops abusing their authority and instead focused on his obsession about race.

  3. #3

    Please put the lower level DC police and Unified Communications employees under oath by DC City Council hearings or Federal Grand Jury. A DC GOVERNMENT employee or employees intentionally erased the tapes. By D.C Code statutes that’s a criminal offense.

    22-2402. Perjury
    a) A person commits the offense of perjury if:

    (1) Having taken an oath or affirmation before a competent tribunal, officer, or person, in a case in which the law authorized such oath or affirmation to be administered, that he or she will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly, or that any written testimony, declaration, deposition, or certificate by that person subscribed is true, wilfully and contrary to an oath or affirmation states or subscribes any material matter which he or she does not believe to be true and which in fact is not true; or

    (2) As a notary public or other officer authorized to take proof of certification, wilfully certifies falsely that an instrument was acknowledged by any party thereto or wilfully certifies falsely as to another material matter in an acknowledgement.

    (b) Any person convicted of perjury shall be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both.

    22-2404. False swearing
    (a) A person commits the offense of false swearing if under oath or affirmation he or she wilfully makes a false statement, in writing, that is in fact material and the statement is one which is required by law to be sworn or affirmed before a notary public or other person authorized to administer oaths.

    b) Any person convicted of false swearing shall be fined not more than $2,500 or imprisoned for not more than 3 years, or both.

    22-2405. False statements
    (a) A person commits the offense of making false statements if that person wilfully makes a false statement that is in fact material, in writing, directly or indirectly, to any instrumentality of the District of Columbia government, under circumstances in which the statement could reasonably be expected to be relied upon as true; provided, that the writing indicates that the making of a false statement is punishable by criminal penalties.

    (b) Any person convicted of making false statements shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned for not more than 180 days, or both.

    22-1805a. Conspiracy to commit crime.
    (a) If 2 or more persons conspire either to commit a criminal offense or to defraud the District of Columbia or any court or agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, each shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both, except that if the object of the conspiracy is a criminal offense punishable by less than 5 years, the maximum penalty for the conspiracy shall not exceed the maximum penalty provided for that offense.

    (b) No person may be convicted of conspiracy unless an overt act is alleged and proved to have been committed by 1 of the conspirators pursuant to the conspiracy and to effect its purpose.

    (c) When the object of a conspiracy contrived within the District of Columbia is to engage in conduct in a jurisdiction outside the District of Columbia which would constitute a criminal offense under an act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia if performed therein, the conspiracy is a violation of this section if:

    (1) Such conduct would also constitute a crime under the laws of the other jurisdiction if performed therein; or

    (2) Such conduct would constitute a criminal offense under an act of Congress exclusively applicable to the District of Columbia even if performed outside the District of Columbia.

    (d) A conspiracy contrived in another jurisdiction to engage in conduct within the District of Columbia which would constitute a criminal offense under an act of Congress exclusively applicable to the District of Columbia if performed within the District of Columbia is a violation of this section when an overt act pursuant to the conspiracy is committed within the District of Columbia. Under such circumstances, it is immaterial and no defense to a prosecution for conspiracy that the conduct which is the object of the conspiracy would not constitute a crime under the laws of the other jurisdiction.

    22-2403 Subornation of perjury
    A person commits the offense of subornation of perjury if that person wilfully procures another to commit perjury. Any person convicted of subornation of perjury shall be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both.

    22-704. Corrupt influence; officials.

    (a) Whosoever corruptly, directly or indirectly, gives any money, or other bribe, present, reward, promise, contract, obligation, or security for the payment of any money, present, reward, or thing of value to any ministerial, administrative, executive, or judicial officer of the District of Columbia, or any employee, or other person acting in any capacity for the District of Columbia, or any agency thereof, either before or after the officer, employee, or other person acting in any capacity for the District of Columbia is qualified, with intent to influence such official’s action on any matter which is then pending, or may by law come or be brought before such official in such official’s official capacity, or to cause such official to execute any of the powers in such official vested, or to perform any duties of such official required, with partiality or favor, or otherwise than is required by law, or in consideration that such official being authorized in the line of such official’s duty to contract for any advertising or for the furnishing of any labor or material, shall directly or indirectly arrange to receive or shall receive, or shall withhold from the parties so contracted with, any portion of the contract price, whether that price be fixed by law or by agreement, or in consideration that such official has nominated or appointed any person to any office or exercised any power in such official vested, or performed any duty of such official required, with partiality or favor, or otherwise contrary to law; and whosoever, being such an official, shall receive any such money, bribe, present, or reward, promise, contract, obligation, or security, with intent or for the purpose or consideration aforesaid shall be deemed guilty of bribery and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment for a term not less than 6 months nor more than 5 years.

    (b) Whosoever corrupts or attempts, directly or indirectly, to corrupt any special master, auditor, juror, arbitrator, umpire, or referee, by giving, offering, or promising any gift or gratuity whatever, with intent to bias the opinion, or influence the decision of such official, in relation to any matter pending in the court, or before an inquest, or for the decision of which such arbitrator, umpire, or referee has been chosen or appointed, and every official who receives, or offers or agrees to receive, a bribe in any of the cases above mentioned shall be guilty of bribery and upon conviction thereof shall be punished as hereinbefore provided.
    22-722. Prohibited acts; penalty.

    (a) A person commits the offense of obstruction of justice if that person:

    (1) Knowingly uses intimidation or physical force, threatens or corruptly persuades another person, or by threatening letter or communication, endeavors to influence, intimidate, or impede a juror in the discharge of the juror’s official duties;

    (2) Knowingly uses intimidating or physical force, threatens or corruptly persuades another person, or by threatening letter or communication, endeavors to influence, intimidate, or impede a witness or officer in any official proceeding, with intent to:

    (A) Influence, delay, or prevent the truthful testimony of the person in an official proceeding;

    (B) Cause or induce the person to withhold truthful testimony or a record, document, or other object from an official proceeding;

    (C) Evade a legal process that summons the person to appear as a witness or produce a document in an official proceeding; or

    (D) Cause or induce the person to be absent from a legal official proceeding to which the person has been summoned by legal process;

    (3) Harasses another person with the intent to hinder, delay, prevent, or dissuade the person from:

    (A) Attending or testifying truthfully in an official proceeding;

    (B) Reporting to a law enforcement officer the commission of, or any information concerning, a criminal offense;

    (C) Arresting or seeking the arrest of another person in connection with the commission of a criminal offense; or

    (D) Causing a criminal prosecution or a parole or probation revocation proceeding to be sought or instituted, or assisting in a prosecution or other official proceeding;

    (4) Injures any person or his or her property on account of the person or any other person giving to a criminal investigator in the course of any criminal investigation information related to a violation of any criminal statute in effect in the District of Columbia;

    (5) Injures any person or his or her property on account of the person or any other person performing his official duty as a juror, witness, or officer in any court in the District of Columbia; or

    (6) Corruptly, or by threats of force, any way obstructs or impedes or endeavors to obstruct or impede the due administration of justice in any official proceeding.

    (b) Any person convicted of obstruction of justice shall be sentenced to a maximum period of incarceration of not less than 3 years and not more than 30 years, or shall be fined not more than $10,000, or both. For purposes of imprisonment following revocation of release authorized by § 24-403.01, obstruction of justice is a Class A felony.

    22-723. Tampering with physical evidence; penalty.
    (a) A person commits the offense of tampering with physical evidence if, knowing or having reason to believe an official proceeding has begun or knowing that an official proceeding is likely to be instituted, that person alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, or removes a record, document, or other object, with intent to impair its integrity or its availability for use in the official proceeding.

    (b) Any person convicted of tampering with physical evidence shall be fined not more than $5,000, imprisoned for not more than 3 years, or both.

    It’s time to hold DC GOVERMENT employees accountable. This multi-million dollar PershingGATE alleged crimes created by “Ramsey, Lanier and Newsham, LLP ” must be investigated criminally to result in indictments and guilty pleas.

    Plus, disbarments for AG’s office and MPD General Counsel’s Office attorneys.

    The Honorable Councilmembers Cheh and Mendelson please investigate immediately the corruption that occurred with PershingGATE. Please do not allow the DC GOVERNMENT employees involved in this massive cover-up to continue receiving a paycheck from the District of Columbia.

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