Federal investigator to question top police officials in evidence probe

Local,Bill Myers

Former D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey and several other top current or former city officials might be subject to criminal prosecutions over the disappearance of evidence in a crackdown on anti-trade protesters, a federal investigator has said in court papers.

Magistrate Judge John Facciola has been appointed special master in a probe over missing evidence regarding class-action lawsuits over the mass arrests of innocent bystanders caught up in a police sweep in 2002. He has asked lawyers for Ramsey and the other officials to appear in court Monday so Facciola can warn them the officials might be facing a criminal probe.

"There is a possibility that the completion of my responsibilities will lead to a referral to the United States attorney's office for possible prosecution," Facciola wrote in court papers. "I am therefore concerned that the persons who will testify be advised of their constitutional right not to incriminate themselves."

Facciola's filing, first reported by Legal Times, raises the stakes in the ongoing litigation around the 2002 mass arrests. Nearly 400 people were swept up and hog-tied for hours after D.C. police tried to disperse crowds protesting the World Bank. They sued the city in a class-action alleging wrongful arrest.

Some time during the litigation, key evidence, including a log of orders given by Ramsey and his deputies, disappeared. Most of the arrested bystanders have settled with the city for $8.25 million, but U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan was so angered by the disappearance of the evidence that he ordered Facciola's probe.

Ramsey is now chief in Philadelphia. He couldn't be reached for comment Friday. City Attorney General Peter Nickles urged the public not to pre-judge the case.

"I think it's very important for me and for you and for everyone else not to speculate about this case," he said. "There's been no finding of culpability at this point."

Nickles commissioned his own probe of the disappearance, which absolved the department of wrongdoing.

Police union Chairman Kris Baumann said he was incensed that the officials in Facciola's report were still on the job.

"The mayor, the attorney general and the chief of police have known about this for the past three years and have allowed these individuals to stay in their positions," Baumann said.

Some of the current or former top officials named in Facciola's report

»  Charles Ramsey, former chief of police

»  Thomas Koger, current assistant attorney general

»  Terry Ryan, D.C. police department general counsel

»  Ronald Harris, D.C. police department deputy general counsel

»  Peter Newsham, assistant chief of police

»  Alfred Broadbent, former assistant chief of police

»  James Crane, commander
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