Pershing Park Case: District Employee Admits They Destroyed Evidence
In their probe of the discovery abuses, plaintiffs lawyers in one of the Pershing Park cases may have found new evidence of alleged criminal conduct by District employees. In early February, a District employee admitted in deposition that they destroyed materials at the order of their supervisor, according to court records.
Plaintiffs lawyers in the Chang case write in a footnote in a court filing dated Feb. 19:
"The extent of the District's outrageous conduct was highlighted this week when it was learned in a deposition, that a District employee, at the order of a supervisor, destroyed 15-20 boxes of material, which included approximately 50 VHS tapes–all of which was located in the office of the individual responsible for overseeing the Joint Operations Command Center."
The employee deposed is George Crawford, a computer specialist who has worked for the D.C. Police Department for 12 years. Crawford's story had been included in the Sporkin Report. But plaintiffs lawyers were able to get more details from Crawford in deposition which included the depth of document and tape destruction.
The Joint Operations Command Center is the hub that would have generated the running resume, the police log of their minute-by-minute activities. The running resume for the mass arrests at Pershing Park on Sept. 27, 2002 went missing and has never been turned over to plaintiffs.
Police video of the events has also come under scrutiny. Plaintiffs lawyers had filed a lengthy brief arguing that the tapes that had been turned over in discovery were faulty: heavily edited, out-of-sequence, and missing the moment of the mass arrests. AG Peter Nickles and Co. had defended the videos. But at a recent hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan, the OAG lawyers admitted that the tapes had been edited and were merely compilations of footage.
The OAG has still failed to turn over the original videotapes.
*file photo by Darrow Montgomery.