New developments in 2002 mass protest arrests investigation - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

New developments in 2002 mass protest arrests investigation

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Federal court documents show the chief counsel of the D.C. Police department has hired his own attorneys after his testimony in a long-running evidence tampering case was cut short.

Terry Ryan has hired attorneys from the law firm of WilmerHale after his testimony about the handling of evidence abruptly ended a little over two weeks ago.

Ryan was being questioned about documents related to the 2002 arrests of hundreds of people in Pershing Park when he agreed to step off the stand.

Two lawsuits costing the city well over $8 million have already been settled and investigation by Magistrate Judge John Facciola, appointed as a special master, has evolved from a third.

In the 10 years since hundreds of people were trapped by police inside Pershing Park and unlawfully arrested, lawyers have been attempting to get to the bottom of why it happened.

Along the way, there have been allegations key documents have been deleted from a police department computer, videotapes documenting the arrests have vanished and key portions of police radio traffic have been erased.

For the last two years, Judge Facciola has been conducting an investigation he has warned could turn criminal.

In fact, the judge has said conflicting statements convinced him he needed to look closer into the possibility city attorneys were, in the judge's words, behind the "Solicitation, preparation, and submission of false testimony/affidavits (as well as) misleading statements by District Counsel."

"This case has been at best a complete embarrassment for the District from the beginning," said Fraternal Order of Police Chairman Kristopher Baumann. "And at worst, as I said, these are criminal issues, this is obstruction of justice, this is perjury and all of those issues are floating around out there and you now have almost everyone associated with this case having to get their own private counsel."

In Wednesday's testimony, a computer expert testified on February 12, 2003, someone attempted to delete a key document relating to the September 2002 protest and arrests.

And that's not all. Marc Bynum testified other documents relating to the protests were also deleted the same day.

"Every time we open a new door, every time we hear someone speak the truth about what went on, there's more disturbing facts," said Baumann.

The plaintiffs in this case now want Chief of Police Cathy Lanier to testify about certain facts surrounding the deletion of information from the police computer and what she did after learning about it in 2011.

Judge Facciola's investigation evolved out of a lawsuit that is now 10 years old.

More testimony is expected this week from Terry Ryan and other D.C. government attorneys.

The assistant police chief in charge of internal affairs is also on the list of people scheduled to testify.

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