WASHINGTON - Ten Black female police officers described vile, graphic sexual harassment and mistreatment Wednesday when they announced a lawsuit they were launching against the D.C. police department.
Attorneys representing the plaintiffs believe the lawsuit could become a "landmark case in the fight for criminal justice reform."
"This is a landmark case because these individual women who are seated next to and behind me have the courage and the audacity to no longer stutter, endure, run from a system that alters and painstakingly affects every day of their lives," said Donald Temple, of Donald Temple Law Offices.
The lead attorney in the case, Pam Keith, said there are "four characteristics of MPD that work together to make life a living hell for Black female officers who get crossways of those in power."
Keith described the "characteristics" as a "jocular" bullying culture, a practice of enabling frontline managers to abuse their power, a "profoundly dysfunctional EEO department," and a propensity to "drum out" officers who don’t toe the line.
The EEO office is the central target of the lawsuit, Temple said. The lawsuit seeks an "overhaul of the EEO officer’s personnel practices, and the establishment of a $100 million fund to compensate the officers who’ve been harmed by the department’s alleged "unlawful practices."
The officers behind the lawsuit include Assistant Chief Chanel Dickerson and 2019 Officer of the Year Tiara Brown, who have resigned.
Officers Sinobia Brinkley, Kia Mitchell, Regenna Grier and Tabatha Knight say they were forced out of the D.C. police department.
The other plaintiffs, including Officer Karen Carr, Officer Leslie Clark, Sergeant Tamika Hampton and Lieutenant LaShaun Lockerman remain active members of the force.
The officers described graphic and inappropriate behavior among male officers.
Officer Tabatha Knight relayed one anecdote in which an officer urinated in a bottle while a female officer say in the vehicle with him. She also said another male officer approached a female officer and stuck his tongue in her mouth. In yet one more instance, a male officer grabbed a female officer by her backside and grinned at her.
Knight says the officers’ complaints were ignored, but they were also "labeled as troublemakers, angry Black women."
The EEO office is at the center of the lawsuit. Keith and Temple say the lawsuit "started as a routine MPD EEO office complaint," but it quickly expanded as more female officers stepped forward.
Other "egregious" complaints include:
- DC police command staff videotaped with known members of the Proud Boys
- A fellow officer showed Officer Clark a picture of a gun that he said he was going to use to assassinate former first lady Michelle Obama. When Officer Clark reported it, she says the department retaliated against her. According to Clark, the retaliation was so severe that she asked that her husband be her back-up.
- On one occasion, an officer brought an AKA rifle to roll call, where he mishandled the weapon. When officer Mitchell reported it, she was chastised for making the incident known to upper management.
FOX 5 reached out to the D.C. police department, who said they could not comment, citing the pending lawsuit. They did provide this explanation:
While we cannot discuss the specific allegations due to pending litigation, the Metropolitan Police Department is committed to treating all members fairly and equitably throughout our organization. We take these allegations seriously and we will be reviewing them thoroughly and responding accordingly.