City Desk

Lawsuit Says Chief “Purged” MPD of Black Officers

A high ranking Metropolitan Police Department officer has named Chief Cathy Lanier in a multimillion dollar suit alleging both gender and race discrimination.

In May, The Washington Times reported that Commander Hilton Burton and three other officials had filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming Lanier treats female officers better than male officers.

Now Burton's civil complaint, which doesn't involve any of his coworkers and was filed a week ago, says Lanier doesn't just discriminate against fellas:

Shortly after taking over as Chief of Police, Chief Lanier commenced a purge of senior African-American career officers on the force. This whitening of the force was also replicated in specialty operations where members were transferred to regular patrol and were replaced by experienced non-minority members.

The suit says that Lanier demoted Burton to inspector "without cause" in 2008. Burton has since been promoted to commander again, but believes he was "deprived of tens of thousands of [dollars] of lost pay, leave and longevity" while he was an inspector.

Burton's lawyer, E. Scott Frison says that under Lanier, high-ranking black male officers are being drummed out of positions. "There's a trend there that we can't explain," says Frison. But the lawyer was unable to immediately produce statistics to support the claim.

Though Burton was reportedly demoted for sending lurid emails to a woman from his MPD computer, Frison says he was innocent. "The chief has a tendency to take actions based on allegations," he says.

MPD officials didn't respond to a request for comment.

Burton just so happens to be the head of an MPD division that's been under fire of late. The division gave police escorts to celebrities like Charlie Sheen and Jay-Z against police policy. A document obtained by City Desk shows Burton signed a form approving Sheen's ride. Frison says he's spoken to his client about the escorts and that Burton said Lanier allowed the practice.

Lawsuits that challenge the gender and race dynamics of the department are an indispensable tool; Lanier herself sued the department for sexual harassment in 1995. But if Lanier isn't fond of black male officers, MPD's demographics don't indicate that. Though the percentage has slowly been decreasing since the late 1990s, the majority of the force is black and male.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • Typical DC BS

    You can hire a lawyer to file a complaint about virtually anything. Let's see what the statistics show. I'm guessing these guys are upset cause they got caught doing dumb things and now want to throw the race card out because they have no other valid reason to bitch about their treatment.

  • Southeast Ken

    The Washington City Paper, please do an article on Police Chief Lanier's proposed Police Service Area changes. I heard from a former Howard University classmate living in Ward 1, DC Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham isn't supporting Chief Lanier's plan.

  • Ronnie

    Trend on statistics can be done at all levels, including academy applicants, applicants who failed drug, psych, and physical tests, academy graduates, and compare stats to DC population trends.

  • Former 4A ANC Commissioner

    As a Ward 4 DC resident living in the Fourth District, I can tell you, Commander Hilton Burton is an asshole. Many of the residents in 4D disliked Hilton Burton because he was lacking social skills. According to ABC 7 News several years ago, it was alleged, Burton had sent dirty sexual messages from his DC Government email to a woman. It was alleged, the woman's husband found inappropriate photos of Burton on his wife's computer. It was alleged, Burton had sex with a woman in his unmarked police cruiser in Anacostia Park. If these allegations are true, his ass should have been fired, not demoted. If the allegations reported by ABC 7 NEWS several years ago is true, Commander Hilton Burton is another freaky pervert like New York Congressman (D) Anthony Weiner.

  • Former 4A ANC Commissioner

    This is an old local Ward 4 online news article about Hilton Burton getting replaced at the Fourth District in 2007.

    http://www.princeofpetworth.com/2007/11/ward-4-gets-a-new-police-commander/

  • AnonYmouS

    If that suit gets vetted and reveals why Burton was demoted a familar nasty name might pop up.Wait for it.Lol!

  • Terry Miller

    The same thing happend in Fire/EMS. Chief Rubin fired and reassigned all but one African American male, so that his senior staff (direct reports) was almost 100 % white males. Similarly, disciplinary actions were mysteriously "lost" when they were against white fire officers, while African American and females had the book thrown at them.

  • please help us

    I remember this a man was on the news and said Burton had sent nude pictures of his self to his wife and the man's daughter found the pictures and the husband filed a complaint which the wife then fessed up to having an affair with Burton.

  • ADM Faragut

    A recap comment from 2007 when the demotion took place:

    15 November 2007 9:59 AM | Ward4Resident Said:

    The allegations against Cmdr. Burton are serious and substantiated. It is not just the claims of extramarital affairs. Rather, the seriousness is that Cmdr Burton appears to have been using his time during work to send explicit emails and pictures, not to mention have sex in an MPD vehicle. In addition, he used his MPD-issued cell phone to send graphic and sexual text messages. Finally, I think that has even more to do with the crime surge in the Fourth District and the overall lack of leadership that Commander Burton has provided. Many patrol officers have lodged complaints against Burton. In addition, when Lt. Brown (of PSA 403) “lost” her gun last year, only to have it turn up at a crime scene, Cmdr. Burton defended her and, according to officers, even helped her try to cover up the truth. Finally, although it has received little attention, there was a recent drug bust at an MPD sergeant’s house in PSA 403 (in the 5600 block of 9th Street NW). This raises all sorts of concerns about whether MPD officers are actually involved in drug dealing; such accusations have been around for years, although this may be definitive proof that we have some seriously crooked officers in 4D. Basically, Lanier is trying to clean house and I give her credit. She knows where the problems are, and that is because she has worked in the MPD for so long. It will take some time, but we’re on the right track. Things in 4D need to change fast because crime is out of control.

  • AnonYmouS

    The wife of the man who complaned was not the only one. Burton was an asshole at 4d and a well known ho' to boot.

  • Proud DC Moments

    1st -- Hilton Burton should have been fired for the lewd photos & sex in a DC police cruiser
    2nd -- Burton has filed a federal lawsuit claiming the exact issues in his DC Super. Ct Lawsuit that his lawyer- FRISON - lost and is now pending oral arguments before the Court of Appeals...
    3rd Frison -- the licensed DC Lawyer & graduate of UDC Law School -- must have been absent the day that the doctrine of res judiata was taught -- he must have missed the class on failure to state a claim for which relief maybe granted and must have missed the part about providing the court with false information --
    4th -- as a member of the DC Bar Frison is an officer of the Court --- required to be candid... and yet, he refuses to write the truth --
    5th -- On Wed frison will be in PG Co Court answering to a TRO against FRISON for Domestic Violence Case #0502SP019192011 -- ordering Frison to SHALL NOT ABUSE
    SHALL NOT CONTACT, SHALL NOT ENTER RESIDENCE,SHALL STAY AWAY FROM EMPLOYMENT and
    6th at noon tomorrow -- Frison will be in DC superior court explaining to a judge what happened to money in will he was suppose to administer...case #2010 SEB 000638
    7th -- residents need not worry -- while the DC Bar continues to let Frison practice law -- the tax payer dollars are safe -- as Hilton Burton will not prevail...

    Hopefully someone at the City Paper will do an article on what it takes to be disbarred in the District of Columbia --lying to the court, harassment, threats, false information,fabricating documents, filing false claims and complaints -- theft of services -- gee... really???? Why is Burton a Commander and Why is Frison a licensed lawyer -- common thread -- it is the District of Columbia...

  • WARD4NDC

    Commander Hilton Burton deserve all the bad karma that comes his way. He doesn't have good managerial skills to relate to citizens or MPD personal. During his tenure as Commander of the 4th District, he was non responsive or uncaring to the citizenry. I am glad Police Chief Lanier is cleaning house of non productive or corrupt police officers/officials. This law suit is bullshit and Commander Burton and the other losers using the race or sex card to file a law suit will not win in a Court of law.

  • KappaNupe

    Many residents in Ward 4 put pressure on both former Mayor Adrian Fenty and Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser to get rid of former Commander Hilton Burton, when the scandal was shown on ABC 7 News regarding his alleged behavior. Commander Burton was like by many 4th District residents and we were glad to see him gone. If the allegations reported on ABC 7 News were true, I wonder why he wasn't fired from the Metropolitan Police Department? I do know, the residents in Ward 4 don't ever want to see this man as the Commander of 4D. The community support Police Chief Lanier to rid MPD of unprofessional personnel.

    Ward 4 DC Resident
    North Portal Estates

  • PSA 401

    I agree with others, Commander Hilton Burton was a showed poor managerial and social skills. He was one of the worse Commanders at the Fourth District. I have lived in Ward 4 for 55 years. When Commander Burton was transferred from the Fourth District, many Ward 4 residents were happy.

  • 5th & Kennedy Street NW

    Commander Burton wasn't popular with the residents and he surrounding himself with a ghetto female former Lieuenant Brooks at the Fourth District. When Lieutenant Brooks first reported to the Fourth District, she had purple hair and 12 inch finger nails. She was put in charge of PSA 403. MPD has gotten the bottom of the barrell with unprofessional and corrupt personnel. The majority of DC taxpayer residents support Lanier on cleaning up the Metropolitan Police Department. Kudos to Lanier for the recent arrest of 4 corrupt 4D police officers. The Fourth District has been known for corruption for years.

  • KappaNupe

    Correction:

    Commander Burton 'WASN'T' liked by many 4th District residents and we were glad to see him replaced.

  • Southeast Ken

    I wonder if Burton and the other men in the lawsuit were hired during former Mayor Marion Barry's tenure? During Barry's tenure, many police officers were hired without a complete background check. Many couldn't read or write a complete sentence. DC has been known for a cash cow city for years. There are too much corruption and unprofessional MPD police officers. I am glad the Police Chief is addressing this issue. Allegedly sending women pictures of your penis or nude is grounds for termination.

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  • Senior Citizen

    I remember both Commander Hilton Burton and Lieutenant Suleika Brooks at the Fourth District. Both came across as uncouth and unprofessional. I remember Police Chief Lanier when she was a Sergeant in our Lamond Riggs neighborhood. Lanier was such a fine young officer and I knew, she would be going places in her life. I'm a retired DC Government mental health Social Worker. DC has been a cash cow city with many lazy ass employees. I support Cathy Lanier trying to clean up Metropolitan Police Department of corrupt and on performing police officers. Seeing the allegations regarding Hilton Burton on ABC 7 News on November 2007, I wasn't surprised. His behind should have been fired. Police Chief Lanier and other women had to endure hardships for years in a man's dominated professional. Now, you have individuals like Hilton Burton and other men wanting to use the sex and race card. I hope Hilton Burton will not win this lawsuit and he's made to look like the fool that he is.

  • Senior Citizen

    Police Chief Lanier and other women had to endure hardships for years in a man's dominated profession. I support Cathy Lanier trying to clean up Metropolitan Police Department of corrupt and non performing police officers.

  • Curious

    Seeing some stats would help. Some of mentioned the number of street officers. I'm pretty sure this article is "not" referring to street officers. I'm curious to see how many black command staff lost their positions versus the number of white command staff. Perhaps the chief is simply more comfortable with those that look like her. Does the CityPaper have any stats (facts) we can look at? Most Chiefs have the right to choose their own team. I'm curious to know if Lanier chose less qualified white command staff over more qualified black command staff simply because of racial preference. CityPaper--can you do any investigation into these numbers?

  • Southeast Ken

    Another DC police officer is accused of stealing.

    http://www.wusa9.com/news/dcnews/article/154858/187/DC-Police-Officer-Accused-Of-Stealing-From-Scam-Victim

    Recent Alleged Corrupt DC Police Officers In The News

    4 Fourth District police officers arrested for robbery/receiving stolen goods.

    1 Vice First District police officer arrested for homicide for allegded killing of a woman and child.

    1 Second District police Sergeant arrested for stealing money from Senior Citizen.

    http://www.wusa9.com/news/dcnews/article/154858/187/DC-Police-Officer-Accused-Of-Stealing-From-Scam-Victim

  • watchingtoo

    This is what happens when blacks mistreat their own race. We have seen black officers messing with black people for no reason while the white officers where standing right there saying nothing. Now, white filth are patrolling the streets with a vengance on the black race.

    If you think you are safe because you are white or white with money you are mistaken. The next holocaust is at the door and whites will suffer far more than they made blacks suffer!!!

  • friend of the police

    As a member...who is black on MPD I find the inspectors claim questionable.....black men is the majority on MPD....and he speaks of racism and sexism....u may isolated white on black incidents....but we all know that most complaints is blacks screwing over blacks....which is sad to say..... In addition, many of the issues blacks have had is either over women or jealously over success and advancement. It's a shame but true. An another thing....if anyone in the command staff wants me crying for them this day of age....after texting inapproprite pics....and getting caught...and u still got a top level salary.....hold ur breath.

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