DC Police Captain Alleges Retaliation and Harassment From Supervisor

The captain says he complained his commander violated procedure by failing to stop a pursuit that ended in a crash

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A D.C. police captain asked a judge to stop what he describes as workplace retaliation and severe harassment he says began after he complained that his supervisor violated procedure and D.C. law by failing to stop a pursuit that ended in a crash.

Just before 3 p.m. March 7, 2nd District officers were called to Georgetown Opticians on Wisconsin Avenue. Video shows four people bursting into the store and grabbing expensive eyeglasses before making their getaway.

"From what I heard on the radio it appeared to be some type of flash mob," said Capt. Steve Andelman.

Officers spotted a possible suspect vehicle nearby. They were ready to pursue when Andelman told them not to.

He cited longstanding D.C. police policy and a D.C. law enacted late last year. 

“It’s very stringent in the situations that we can pursue, and even a violent offense, most violent offenses, we cannot pursue,” he said. 

Andelman said he was immediately overruled by his boss, 2nd District Cmdr. Duncan Bedlion.

Minutes later, the car being pursued, which was found to be stolen, flipped over on busy George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia.

Two suspects were taken into custody. One of them, a 16-year-old, was injured.

“They described a robbery taking place,” Bedlion said at the scene. “They gave us a description and a vehicle and they said they were armed with handguns.”

The whistleblower complaint Andelman filed claims Bedlion directed him to alter the characterization of the incident in the initial police report. That was just the beginning, he said.

His request for a temporary restraining order follows weeks of what he describes as his commander’s attempts to intimidate, berate and publicly denigrate him, as well as the Metropolitan Police Department’s refusal of his transfer request.

“Nothing we do, you know, about active bystander training or anything about rules and transparency, hiring equity officers, none of that matters if you don’t shut down retaliation in the police station,” said Pam Keith, Andelman’s attorney.

Andelman said it has not been easy for him.

“This incident could have been anything, not just a chase,” he said. “It could have been use of force; it could have been anything. I saw something that was wrong.”

The motion for a temporary restraining order asks the judge to hear oral arguments from both parties.

Bedlion said he was unable to comment due to the ongoing investigation.

A spokesman for D.C. police said Thursday’s filing indicates the matter is still in the preliminary stages and any comment now would be premature.

A police news release issued a week after the crime referred to the crime as an “unarmed robbery.”

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