DC police captain testifies in whistleblower lawsuit trial

Opening statements began Wednesday in the whistleblower lawsuit filed by a D.C. police captain.

Hilton Burton, who was in command of the Special Operations Division when actor Charlie Sheen got a high speed, lights and siren escort from Dulles International Airport nearly four years ago, took the stand and told the court Police Chief Cathy Lanier was not telling the truth when she told reporters the D.C. Police Department did not escort celebrities.

In fact, he says the very next day, he received an email from the chief's top aide asking him to draft a policy.

Chief Lanier was in the courtroom sitting behind the defense table and listened intently as Capt. Burton laid out in detail everything that happened in the days after.

He told the eight-member jury the chief was not telling the truth when she told reporters the police department does not provide escorts for celebrities.

Burton told the court police escorts were commonplace and Lanier knew it.

Marc Wilhite, Burton's attorney, then produced an email sent from Chief Lanier's top aide telling Burton the chief of police wants a policy on who gets escorts.

A second email to Burton said the chief is adamant that we do not provide escorts for celebrities.

But as Burton pointed out on the stand, Chief Lanier had been the commander of the Special Operations Division before becoming chief of police. In that time, the department had escorted a number of celebrities including Paul McCartney and Billy Joel.

Burton also took issue with a statement made by the department at the time saying "our protocol was not followed" in the Sheen case. It is a statement Burton said was "nowhere near accurate."

Burton filed his whistleblower lawsuit alleging Chief Lanier retaliated against him by demoting him two ranks from commander to captain after he questioned her veracity at a city council hearing.

But Lanier's attorney, Stephanie Litos, told the court Burton was demoted for a number of reasons that had nothing to do with the sheen escort and his testimony at council.

Litos told the jury Burton had previously been involved in a sex scandal on the department and had been demoted once before.

She also said he had shown poor judgment during two barricade situations and had mishandled the planning of the Caribbean Festival Parade in which there had been many complaints.

Burton spent virtually the entire day on the stand and vigorously defended himself point for point on everything Chief Lanier's attorney said about him.

He went in great detail about how he handled the barricade situations and the parade and explained how he came to all of the decisions he made.