During his 14-year career as a Metropolitan Police Department officer, Homer Littlejohn has had experience with the citizen complaint, the civil suit, and the federal investigation (“Rough Justice” 1/7/00). In the past three years, he has been investigated multiple times by federal authorities for complaints of alleged excessive force and questionable searchesall concluding with his return to the force in good standing.
But on Dec. 4, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that Littlejohn had been indicted for lying to a grand jury.
Littlejohn’s indictment was big news for defense attorneys who have long accused the officer of being a rogue cop. Attorney William Claiborne, who has won one civil-suit settlement against Littlejohn and has another case pending against the officer, says he’s not surprised by the news. “I think it’s too little, too late,” he says.
Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey says he has known of the investigation for some time. “He’ll have his day in court,” he says of Littlejohn.
To judge from the indictment, Littlejohn had every opportunity to avoid such a day. The grand jury in question was convened to investigate the legality of a July 30, 2001, search that Littlejohn and another officer had conducted on a car in the 1100 block of Stevens Road SE. More than a year later, according to the indictment, on Sept. 12, 2002, Littlejohn appeared as a witness before the grand jury.
On the stand, Littlejohn was asked a series of questions about whether he had contacted any other witnesses tied to the investigation. He denied having talked to anyone about the case.
Prosecutors then specifically asked if he had contacted Officer Robert Schmidt, who had been present during the Stevens Road incident, about the case. Littlejohn, the indictment states, replied: “No. I, I was informed that Schmidt received a letterbecause we were still in the same unit, at that time we were in the same unitthat he had to come down to talk to you also. But as far as other witnesses, I have no idea.”
A few questions later, Schmidt was brought up again, and again Littlejohn denied talking to him.
“No,” Littlejohn stated. “I don’t have a way to get in contact with him.”
“What’s that?” the prosecutor asked.
“I don’t have a way to get in contact with himhe’s not at work,” Littlejohn replied.
According to the indictment, the prosecutor gave Littlejohn one more chance”And so you have not contacted him any other waycell phone, pager, or home phoneany other way contacting Schmidt to find out whether he also had been invited to the grand jury?”
“No,” Littlejohn stated.
“No?” the prosecutor asked.
“No,” Littlejohn stated again.
Prosecutors allege that Littlejohn’s testimony was false. The indictment states that Littlejohn had in fact contacted Schmidt about the investigation into the Stevens Road search as well as the grand-jury hearing. “He knew how to contact Officer Robert Schmidt when Officer Robert Schmidt was not at work because he knew, and in fact called Officer Robert Schmidt’s home telephone number,” the indictment reads.
If convicted, Littlejohn faces up to five years in prison. He pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Littlejohn still sees himself as a good cop, and he can’t believe he was indicted.
“Are you kidding?” he says. “Fourteen years, man, you know? To hear something like that—shocking. When this is over, depending on the outcome, I got a title for this thing: ‘Unsung Hero.’” CP