City Desk

FOP: Lanier Could be Fired; Lanier: FOP Lawsuit “Frivolous.”

MPD Chief Cathy Lanier

On Thursday, a jury found that an MPD officer was unlawfully retaliated against by his superiors. The civil suit was filed in 2005 but wasn't resolved until yesterday.

As Washington City Paper reported earlier this month, former D.C. police officer Martin Freeman brought a suit against the city claiming he'd been unfairly targeted by his superiors. Freeman says he blew the whistle on the fact that the department had muscled in on some security work he had lined up at Gallery Place Mall during his off hours. Despite Freeman already having negotiated terms, MPD somehow got the mall to agree to hire its expensive private security service (which has raked in at least $1.9 million this year). Freeman went to Fox 5 News about it. Later, he was fired over what he said were trumped up charges. Several other officers who'd planned to work with Freeman at the mall were suspended. Two joined him in the lawsuit. The jury has awarded one of those suspended officers—Sean McLaughlin—$6,799.56 in lost wages and $5,865.38 in non-economic damages.

MPD and the FOP have put out wildly different interpretations of the lawsuit's results. (City Desk will be reviewing the case's jury form later.)

In a press release sent out yesterday, the FOP says that Chief Cathy Lanier—who commanded the officer's unit at the time—has been  found personally responsible for unlawful retaliation, and faces penalties that could include being fired:

"Today a jury of nine in D.C. Superior Court returned a unanimous verdict in favor of all three plaintiffs holding that the plaintiffs were whistleblowers under D.C.’s Whistleblower Protection Act; that they disclosed that the MPD was engaged in illegal conduct; and that as a result of the disclosure, officials within the department retaliated against all three of the plaintiffs by imposing discipline against the plaintiffs. The jury identified Chief Cathy Lanier as the sole official within the department as having engaged in the retaliatory conduct.

Based on the jury’s findings, Judge [Franklin] Burgess will now determine the appropriate civil fine to be imposed against Chief Cathy Lanier personally. Judge Burgess will also decide the appropriate discipline to be imposed against Chief Cathy Lanier. Under the Whistleblower statute, the discipline is mandatory and must be imposed against each official found to have engaged in retaliation. The discipline provided for by the whistleblower statute expressly includes the penalty of discharge."

But in a statement sent to City Desk via email this morning, Chief Lanier fires back that Freeman was a dirty cop and that the outcome of his lawsuit exonerated the department for the most part.

"The bottom line is the jury upheld the Department’s decision to terminate a police officer who engaged in illegal activities. The claim by the FOP is simply an attempt to justify their expenditure of nearly a million dollars in legal fees attempting to get this bad officer his job back.

Despite spending a staggering amount of FOP resources to bring a frivolous lawsuit, the jury repudiated almost all of the union’s claims. Most importantly, the jury affirmed the Department’s decision made five years ago, to terminate an officer who brokered illegal outside employment in exchange for under-the-table cash payments.While the jury did find the District liable on one of the counts, there is no evidence in the record to support this conclusion. The District is confident that finding will be reversed, meaning that no fine or discipline will be imposed. It is astonishing that the union would spend so many resources and so much money to try to get a dirty cop his job back."

Though Lanier didn't address the FOP's contention that she could lose her job under whisteblower-protection laws, DC Attorney General Peter Nickles tells City Desk via email that it's "not true." The FOP statement, he says, is "inaccurate."

But Richard Condit of the Government Accountability Project seems to think it's at least possible. He cites the following passage from the amended DC Whistleblower protection act:

a) As part of the relief ordered in an administrative, arbitration or judicial proceeding, any person who is found to have violated § 1-615.53 or § 2-223.02 shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action including dismissal.

Asked about the likelihood of the judge stripping Lanier of her post, FOP head Kristopher Baumann says he's not sure how to gauge it: "This is new territory. I am not sure we have ever had an agency head commit this type of violation in the District before. It is an absolute embarrassment."

It's worth noting that Baumann's union has endorsed the guy who's trying to unseat Lanier's boss, Mayor Adrian Fenty. During a visit to City Paper yesterday,  Fenty pointed out that Chief Lanier has been one of his most popular appointments. Allegations—real or otherwise—about "absolute embarrassments" could muddy Lanier's image as the top cop who helped drive down D.C. crime, and in the process deal a blow to Fenty's re-election bid.

For more clarity on the matter, City Desk suggests waiting until... after election day.

*Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • ThomDC

    Lanier should have been fired after it was revealed she gave the direct order to "hog-tie" innocent bystanders (tourists, visiting nurses, really scary types) as part of Chuckles Ramsey's illegal round up at Pershing Square and also took full part in the cover up of same.

    What a sad joke it is that anyone would even consider replacing Phil Mendelson for the likes of Fenty clone and butt boy Clark Ray because Phil is low key. I was at the Council hearings on the Pershing Square travesty and watched as Ramsey et al, as has now been proven, lied and prevaricated. Only Phil Mendelson and Kathy Patterson "got it" and thank G'd they did and doggedly followed it up.

    Also, if there is even a scintilla of truth to the reports of her covering up domestic abuse calls at the Fenty residence she should be fired as well.

    Lanier helped drive down DC crime? Unlikely! Like Ramsey what she has more likely done is to become more adept at manipulating statistics.

  • downtown rez

    Wow- ThomDC trots out the old: "So, Adrian, when did you stop beating your wife" claim.
    Unions were great back in Upton Sinclair's day. Unfortunately now they are led by hacks and protect the incompetent and the criminal.
    Sad.

  • Terry Miller

    It is just the beginning of a whole slew of whistlblower suits that will previal against the District. Just about every agency has one or two or three of these, and a lot of them have zero union involvement. Within the next few years, the government is going to have to pay the price for the actions of Fenty and his agency heads.

  • downtown rez

    Yeah, right.
    I'm sure Harriet Waters and the fired Benita Jacks CFSA employees all want their pound of taxpayer flesh.

  • yardworksuxs

    downtown rez, sounds like you just moved to the big city! If anyone is a hack, it is Lanier and Fenty! The unions have an obiligation to protect the members from unlawful acts committed by these thugs. Since Fenty and Lanier took office, they have attempted to "Bust" the public safety unions of the police and fire departments. If you think it is no big deal, then take 911 off your speed dial. They routinely violate union contracts on a daily basis and have no regard for city employees. So, the unions of public employees have been fighting back and after years of delays, we are starting to see some results. These results will cause the District to pay out millions for their "personal vendettas".

    Crime is DOWN nationally and Homicide rate is down due to the bulldozer. That's right folks, URBAN REMOVAL of public housing projects thanks to former Anthony Williams. The idea that Lanier is a crime reducer is far from the truth. Crime trends are downward and she has nothing to do with it.

    The bottom line is the police department should not be providing police officers to work "off=duty" or "brokering" job sites that otherwise would have be handled by police officers. If they are unable to find officers for the detail, they send "on-duty" officers to fill the void because they have to fill it by contract.

  • downtown rez

    I've been here 20 years- my eyes open the whole time.
    90% of MPD don't live in DC. Ask them- they say they can't afford it, which really means they are unwilling to live in the same neighborhoods the rest of us us common people can afford.
    All I need from them is all I need from anyone- for them to do their jobs and not pretend they are above the rest of us.

  • Mike1

    It's about time,,, she and fenty need to go and go fast.. morale and efficiency at the police department is down and declining more everyday...This will probably be the first of many lawsuits the District will loose and have to fork over thousands. The fear of retaliation is running high there and many officers are leaving because of unfair labor practices and decisions. The lack of true leadership is gonna turn out to be deadly for the poor citizens of dc and as a result, someone is gonna feel the pain..

  • downtown rez

    More FOP scaremongering.
    Good to know that the internet is working and no storms have knocked out power in PG, PW, or wherever the fuck else they live.

  • Sally

    If the FOP's seemingly hyperbolic claims were true, I'd expect the officer to have gotten quite a bit more than the $12,000 award.

    I mean, it's not like the FOP would play politics with this sort of thing a few weeks before the election or anything like that.

  • John

    This is the Chief of Police that the mobster Fenty chose to be the Chief of Police for the District of Columbia and this is how she acts like a 10 old cry baby after the jury found her liable. If she had any integrity and morals she would have come out and admitted she did wrong and apologize to the officers. The residents of the District would have appreciated the Chief of Police admitting her wrong doing and moving on. But instead she chastised the Police Union for standing up for the rights of there officers which they did an excellent job by the way. My hat is off to the Police Union for standing up for their members. At the same time it clearly shows the residents of the District of Columbia and jury that heard the case the truth about Chief of Police with her fake self when she’s out and about in public eye. Chief Lanier the jury unanimously found you liable not the Union.

  • downtown rez

    Yawn. At the end of the day, the crooked cop was not reinstated.
    I'm glad MPD leadership stands up and does not tolerate corruption in the rank and file. Like MPD leadership, I wonder why the union would chose to spend $1 million of its members dues to defend an officer that damaged the good reputation of MPD's many other fine officers.

  • Mike1

    What is interesting to me is that this COP is labelled as crooked but there is never any mention of what he did wrong to receive that label!! Brokering outside employment is something that has been running through the police department for over 20 years. There are people still doing it to this day, so I hope that isn't the only basis for labelling this officer...

    As for the statement that Lanier helped drive dc crime down,, that's puzzling. As a person with expert knowledge of crime and tactics used over the last decade, I will ask and say this,,,

    1. What tactics have we implmented in DC to reduce crime over the last 4 years that were different then the prior Chief? According to my information inside of MPD, the same exact systems that were set up by the prior Chief are still in place. Nothing new just a dao and pony show called AHOD (all hands on deck) which makes everyone on the department work both friday and saturday every few weeks... the problem is that these arent additional officers, these are officers that are just having there days off changed, so the other 5 days of that week the city is running short of officers...then they give you wonderful numbers for friday and saturday but never mention what happened the entire week when the department runs shorthanded.. The magic shell game

    2. What has changed to reduce the number of Homicides ?
    Absolutley nothing, The number of people being shot and or stabbed over the last 4 years is higher then before...Do the citizens feel safer in DC now then before? No, way, turn on the TV and see, it's not MPD, it's technology... More people shot, but more people surviving there attacks because of cell phones, cameras, computers etc. The response times of First aid and the ability to stabilize the victim has led to the reduction of people dying from their injuries.. It goes hand and hand with the closure rates, more people are calling the police, texting the police, sending in video of the crimes then ever before because of the comfort of it's use, not the effectiveness of MPD.... If you live in the city ask yourself this, Do you see more police officers outside of tourist areas????? The ones you do see, are they doing something different? Talk to your neighbors or anyone that had to call the police lately, do they come any faster now???? All your answers should be "No"

  • Marciela

    If Freeman is such a malevolent "crooked" officer, why was he not disciplined before? Why was he proclaimed crooked after blowing the whistle? Lanier has no problem firing and demoting people, that much is clear.

    If so many things have been done to reduce crime, why has sexual assault tripled? Why were kids in the summer youth employment program mugged on pay day? And what has been done about that aside from Groomes recommending that the kids stay inside during their lunch, punishing them for being victimized?

    Lanier doesn't have a single original idea. ALL of her programs are those Ramsey had in place. Wait, she did have and publicly demonstrate one idea, that of hogtying people at Pershing Park at the cost of $13.7 million. But AHOD? Ramsey. Lights on while squad cars are rolling? Ramsey via the pricey trips to Israel. City Paper had a recap of a breakfast meeting among Ramsey, Lanier and Mendo where he pointed out to Lanier that her ideas were no different than her "mentor" Ramsey.

    The difference is Ramsey would say no to Adrian Fenty. Cathy Lanier can't. She knows she'd better not.

  • noodlez

    DREZ-PUMP YOUR BRAKES DUDE! YOU NEED TO SLOW DOWN. THE FAKE ASS FENTY RHETORIC HAS GOT YOU ALL GASSED UP!

    LOOK HERE CATHTY (6 DICKS) LANIER HAS DONE GOOD WORK IN HER LATER YEARS BUT THE CHICKENS HAVE COME HOME TO ROOST. TIME TO PAY THE PIPER! I BELIEVE SHE SHOULD STAY TO KEEP SOME CONTINUITY BUT THERE WAS A REASON SHE WAS PICKED. MAKES A BROTHA WONDER WHY?

    SLIM YOUR DEDICATION AND STICK-TO-IT-TIVNESS HAVE REALLY MOVED ME AND OFTEN HAVE ME WONDER ARE YOU A WCP PLANT THAT KEEPS THE COMMENT SECTION GOING?

    YOU GOT noodlez PERPLEXED.???

  • http://.. Marie Jackson

    Downtown rez

    Will you be leaving DC when Gray wins?

  • sedcdude

    D rez can be considered the perverbial fluffer!!

    One who works the porn set by giving out indiscriminate blow jobs to those male performers in between the REAL work/shoot in order to keep them cocked and loaded for the $$ shot!!

    Wrong city and crowd champ!

  • http://c Jack

    MPD leadership had a banner week last week. Let's bring out the stars. Lieutenant Burley Sanders- This fine leader of the MPD was initially charged with Sexual Abuse of a female MPD sergeant. On Monday, August 23, 2010, he was convicted of Simple Assault. The fine leader( i use that term loosely) felt it was okay to pull the female sergeant onto his lap. Next up, was the chief herself. Of course she retaliated against the officer. Retaliation and abusive behavior toward the officers of the MPD has increased 10 fold since Lanier and Fenty took office. Yeah, some lazy people work for the DC Govt, but the good workers should not have to put up with retaliation, abuse, assault, demeaning language, etc, while at work. If Lanier and company were so competent, why can't they follow the rules, law, etc, and properly dispose of those who are a drain on the Department. The entire procedure for terminating a "bad" employee is spelled out in a couple books. The FOP is very successful, because the leadership of the FOP uses "reading comprehension" to put "the screws" to Lanier and her command staff.

  • nunyabiz

    There is nothing wrong with a cop choosing to reside outside of their jurisdiction of employment. In fact, it's probably a best practice to ensure personal safety for themselves and their families. There is less risk in existing off-duty in an area where they don't enforce the law and encounter the knuckleheads who repeatedly get locked up and released.

  • nunyabiz

    That's not a sidebar comment, but meant to address the comment that criticizes the ones who don't live in DC.

    Not a cop; it just seems like something that shouldn't be held against them.

  • downtown rez

    Nunyabiz-
    I hear you, but criminals target citizens for intimidation and retaliation citizens who call cops more than they do the cops themselves. And citizens don't get to walk around with guns.

  • rogerthat

    As someone who had a very intimate look at the case, I really wish you all could step into my shoes and see what a load of propaganda is being spewed out of the FOP.

    The head of the FOP is Kris Baumann, a former TAX LAWYER who understands the legal system as good as anyone. He is backed up by his partner in falsity Mr. Conti out of Baltimore, whose firm does all the FOP's dirty work. Their goal is wage a power struggle against MPD leadership, and no amount of truth or honesty will get in their way.

    Here was a corrupt officer under multiple investigations BEFORE he blew the whistle. They chose this case because they will get lawyer's fees, but the officers themselves will get very little (I'm guessing).

    This isn't about government corruption. This is about the ego of one man. Kris Baumann. Seek the truth.

  • http://WCP Hammertime

    To all those seeking to find the truth, its simple; get the court documents. When the court documents became public, Lanier never spoke again.

    D-town rez: why is is that you seem to have the answer to everything? By your rationale, all DC cops must live in the city and be alert 24 hours a day. Does your job require that of you? Violence against the police has risen dramatically over the last 5 years, i.e., murders, assaults. The police need a break, a place where they can escape the anxieties and stressors of the job. Why do you think so few officers live in the city, its not coincidence?

    No one will take you seriously until you make some concesions and realize that your arguments hold no merit. They're merely personal opinions; you cant argue personal opinions.

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