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D.C. Police Chief Lanier Testifies to Justified Demotion of Commander in Whistleblower Trial

The jury in a whistleblower trial heard from D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier Friday, and she defended her reasons for demoting a high-ranking officer.

Capt. Hilton Burton filed a lawsuit after he was demoted from commander of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Special Operations Division. He claims the decision was made because he contradicted Lanier on the issue of police escorts for celebrities.

When actor Charlie Sheen came to D.C. on his “Violent Torpedo of Truth” tour in April 2011, he received a police escort with sirens and flashing lights from Dulles International Airport and tweeted about it. The D.C. Council called a hearing at which Burton testified such escorts happened a lot. Lanier said it didn’t, only in instances where there is a security risk.

Lanier testified Friday Burton was demoted for several reasons, including the handling of a 2011 barricade in which the suspect was killed. She also pointed to pushback from Burton to deputy chiefs and others above him.

“He was not operating at the level of a commander,” she said.

During this trial, Burton has vigorously defended his decision in the barricade situation and others cited by Lanier.

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