Chief Lanier denies celebrity police escort claims in whistleblower case

Testimony in the whistleblower trial of D.C. Police Captain Hilton Burton has come to a close with Chief Cathy Lanier defending herself on the stand.

She told the jury she demoted Burton over his performance as commander of the Special Operations Division and not in retaliation for his testimony at the D.C. city council.

Chief Lanier was the only witness on Monday and testified for several hours about police escorts -- how they are handled -- what she knew about them and what she thought of Burton's performance.

Lanier countered Burton's claim she knew and approved police escorts of celebrities while commander of the Special Operations Division from 2002 to 2006. She told the jury of the five escorts that have been documented, three took place while she was on leave, and there were no records to show who approved them. One was approved by the chief's office and the last was unauthorized and the officers investigated.

The chief told the jury when someone asked for a non-dignitary escort, she "flat out denied them."

Lanier also contradicted earlier testimony that she would have her picture taken with celebrities who were escorted by the police.

She also disputed testimony that singer Patti LaBelle was given an escort at the taxpayer's expense while she was chief of police. Lanier told the court there is no record of it.

A great deal of testimony over the last two weeks had to do with whether the police department had a policy for police escorts in place when actor Charlie Sheen received one in April of 2011.

The chief testified there was and pointed to the rules and regulations that govern the police department called a general order -- one that was issued in 1974.

But as many as five witnesses, all current or former police officers, told the court they were unaware of the general order and there was no policy on celebrity escorts in place.

Capt. Burton claims the chief found the order after the escort of Sheen and is using it for her defense.

Chief Lanier told the jury she demoted Burton for the way he handled three barricades -- two of them deadly -- along with a controversial parade and other issues, and not because he testified before the D.C. city council.

Burton is fighting to get his rank back and believes he was demoted and transferred only after he blew the whistle on the inner workings of the police department and Chief Lanier's lies to the public.

Closing arguments will be heard first thing Tuesday morning.

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