City Desk

Affidavit: Ramsey Ordered Pershing Park Arrests

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An affidavit filed today in U.S. District Court raises questions as to whether former D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey may have committed perjury in his sworn testimony about the Pershing Park fiasco. Ramsey had repeatedly stated in depositions that he had not ordered the mass arrest of approximately 400 people during the Sept. 27, 2002, World Bank/IMF protests.

Yet the affidavit, by Det. Paul Hustler, a 22-year D.C. Police veteran, maintains that Ramsey indeed ordered the arrests.

Hustler's affidavit, taken Nov. 16, [PDF] is just the latest shock in a pair of Pershing Park class-action civil suits in U.S. District Court. In recent months, the case has been dogged by allegations of massive discovery violations. Judge Emmet Sullivan has called for an outside investigation into how basic evidence in the cases had gone missing.

On the day of the protests, Hustler's squad had been dispatched to Pershing Park to assist with crowd control. At the time, the police had surrounded anyone in the park whether they were IMF protesters or innocent bystanders. Hustler states in his affidavit that officers were ordered to funnel people into the park. Hustler was standing near Ramsey and various police officials at the time. He then goes on to state:

"As I walked closer, about five or six feet away from them, I heard Chief Ramsey say, 'We're going to lock them up and teach them a lesson.'"

Hustler's testimony had been the subject of an intense legal war between plaintiffs attorneys and AG Peter Nickles. Last week, Hustler's deposition was postponed. Nickles immediately filed a motion in U.S. District Court to bar Hustler from testifying in the nearly seven-year old case.

Yesterday, Judge Sullivan ruled that not only should Hustler's deposition go forward but that it had to be taken in the presence of either U.S. Marshals or a magistrate judge.

By then Hustler had already given a sworn affidavit to the plaintiffs lawyers. It is easy to see why Hustler's testimony is so explosive, given the light it sheds on Ramsey's credibility.

The former chief had plenty of opportunity to give his side of the story:

*On Feb. 25, 2003, Ramsey testified before the D.C. Council's Judiciary Committee. Then-Councilmember Kathy Patterson asked if Ramsey had been in on the decision to make the mass arrests. Ramsey replied: "No. When I came up on the scene, actually, that was already practically in progress."

*On Dec. 18, 2003, Ramsey conceded during a D.C. Council investigatory hearing that he did approve of the decision to arrest everyone in Pershing Park.

*On Sept. 18 and 19, 2007, Ramsey was deposed as part of the class action lawsuits stemming from Pershing Park [see video]. He reverted back to previous denials. He stated: "I did not order any arrests at any scene during the course of that day." Even when confronted with his testimony before the D.C. Council, Ramsey stuck with his denial that he had approved the mass arrests.

Hustler's affidavit was filed in U.S. District Court this morning. The Pershing Park matter has long been an embarrassment for the police department as well as the attorney general: The false arrests of hundreds of innocent citizens, the missing evidence and discovery abuses, and now the possibility of the former chief lying under oath.

As part of their filing, plaintiffs lawyers wrote: "The affidavit has obvious relevance to the missing evidence and any motivation for alleged destruction of such evidence."

Hustler's testimony also reveals the unease among authorities who were on the scene that day:

"Officers started to surround the park and push people back into the park. At this time I along with Sgt. Buethe started to walk away. A man from the press stopped me and said, 'Hey I'm from the press and I want to leave.' I called Chief Jordan over and said 'Hey Chief, this guy is from the press and he wants to leave.' Chief Jordan came over and said 'nobody leaves.' At this time Sgt. Buethe told me, let's go this isn't right. And we went to the truck and watched as the crowd was pushed back into the park. At this time, a U.S. Park Police Lieutenant also stated that they were not going to participate in this, and that they were going to pull out."

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • Simon

    WOW. As a civil rights lawyer, this case makes up for all the frustration of cops who lie on the stand. When you actually find one who tells the truth, that's gold.

  • RealJustice

    Anyone sitting in the Council chambers the days Ramsey testified (surrounded by a gaggle of brass and communications staff - the intimidation ploy didn't work) is not surprised by this revelation. Nor would the MPD rank and file and the union be surprised. Ramsey and MPD were clearly caught off gaurd that their supremacy was even being questioned. This was the heyday of the "policing by publicity release" strategy which too often passes for actual effectiveness abnd policy. Charles Ramsey and by extension his clone Terr Gainer was an accomplished liar.

    Kudoes once again to Linda Cropp, Kathy Patterson and Phil Mendelson for not letting this pass without being challenged at the time. Also to John Aravosis and his crew in Adams Morgan/Mt. Pleasant. I shutter to think what the result would have been had the current sad sacks of the Gray Council been in charge.

  • Walt Whitman

    Jason, you were present at many of these meetings and hearings. You know what is up!

  • Typical DC BS

    The police lie? Please, this doesn't surprise me. What does surprise me is how long this whole thing has played out and what a crappy job Bid Media has done in exposing this. The chief of police outright lies and no consequences for him? Hope the people of Philadelphia (I think that's where he's at now as chief) are watching.

    Any competent attorney will rake any testimony he gives over the coals after this fiasco.

  • Former Staffer

    arrest that criminal, i mean police chief.

    no i mean criminal.

    willfully violating first amendment rights is inherently criminal and a dereliction of his duties. sue him to get his salary back.

  • Conrade Al Gonzales

    Suckers. Ramsey lied under oath & is probably going to get away with it. He's making $180,000 in Philly as police commissioner, & another $100,000 + from his DC pension, plus health care etc. And the city is paying for his attorneys, who are from large white-collar defense firms.

    Suckers. Free people would protest. Free people would stop traffic on the bridges to VA & the avenues to MD.

    Suckers just complain. Suckers just pay for it.

    DC is full of peasants & serfs. What a joke.

    Revolution, suckers. To the barricades, suckers.

    Lazy punkass self-absorbed yuppie bitches. oh, & suckers. oh & capitalists. how big was your bailout? suckers. capitalism for you suckers, socialism for the rich people on Wall Street. suckers.

  • proballdc

    It was clear that MPD committed a crime when the OAG went to extreme lengths to hide documents and destroy evidence. If everything was on the up and up, why all of the stall tactics. The longer they take, the guiltier they appear.

  • Walt Whitman

    Comrade Gonzalez, as you well know the Patriot Act makes it an act of terrorism to impede the flow of access and egress on the VA bridges. We colonists have no redress!
    I sure hope the Philly press is picking up on this. Would love to see that fat ass (remember his famous diet, that didn't work out so well for lard ass)fry.
    Ramsey is an embarassment to righteous public servants everywhere.

  • MyThoughts

    We all owe a debt of appreciation to this honest Detective, and any other MPD officer willing to tell the truth about what really happened. Det. Hustler's honesty reflects a depth of character, professionalism and honor that Charles Ramsey never had.

  • ArlingtonAaron

    If Jason's previous article is anything to go on, Nickles was claiming that there wasn't any new information in this deposition. At what point do the extraordinary bald-face lies from the AG's office start raising flags at the Bar Counsel's office?

    All this in a city that wants more autonomy... seems like the Feds should be more involved in overseeing disasters like this, not less.

  • Truth Hurts

    @MyThoughts, well put. "This honest detective and any other MPD officer willing to tell the truth . . . reflect character, professionalism and honor." The city needs and deserves stand up officers and leaders.

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