Photos show DC police chief's cruiser parked in handicapped space

Pictures obtained exclusively by FOX 5 show D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier's cruiser sitting in a handicapped spot.

The photos were taken Monday night. Lanier was at a community outreach meeting at the Sixth District police station. Chief Lanier denies that she was in the car, which is labeled cruiser number one.

Typically, parking in a handicapped spot gets you towed, plus a $250 ticket. However, nobody ticketed the chief's cruiser.

The spot in question, which is marked by two signs, is for resident Brenda Ganey. She lives nearby with her disabled daughter. Ganey did not know that the chief was in her spot, but if she had known, she would have complained.

"I am very vocal about them being in my spot. I go over there and ask them to move, because basically-- if you were there, they gonna give you a ticket. If a friend is there, they will tell them, I'm gonna give you a ticket," said Ganey.

Chief Lanier's spokesman, Lt. Sean Conboy, sent a statement to FOX 5, "I have spoken with the Chief of Police. She rode over with a coworker to the Sixth District station for a community meeting. I also spoke with the officer operating Cruiser 1. He was clear, the only time the cruiser occupied any part of a handicapped space was when he was backing into the legal space." 

A second photo provided to FOX 5 from another source showed another car parked behind the cruiser in the legal spot. Several police officers who witnessed the car said it was parked for about a half hour in the spot. Another photo from a third source showed the cruiser parked in the handicapped spot. The police union is calling for an investigation.

"Chief Lanier's car parked in a handicapped spot should definitely be investigated -- just like any police officer parked in a handicapped spot without a reasonable explanation," said Marinos Marinos, secretary of the D.C. Police Union.

Marinos said that in cases of emergencies, officers can park in handicapped spots, but should move their car as soon as the emergency is over. That wasn't the case with the chief. He said she should be held to her own standards.

Normally, a police officer would be investigated by his or her commander or the chief's office. FOX 5's Emily Miller asked the union about who investigates the chief. They said it is up to the mayor.

After this story originally aired at 6 p.m. Tuesday, FOX 5 received a statement from Chief Lanier's spokesperson. It says in part:

"The Chief did not drive any car to the 6D meeting. The Chief rode over with a colleague and was dropped off at the front door. The operator of Cruiser 1 has been identified and clarified in his statement that he never left the car and was not parked. MPD will investigate this incident like any other allegation of traffic violations against an officer."

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