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Every four years, the District’s at the center of the world for the presidential inauguration. Revelers visit from all over the world, and Washington is put on display. It’s the kind of unique event that could only be marred by, say, two high-ranking policemen lining up to trade some blows and anti-gay slurs.

That’s exactly what happened during Barack Obama‘s first inauguration, according to a new decision from the District’s Office of Employee Appeals.

Trouble started when Metropolitan Police Department Lieutenant Craig Royal, in charge of a police unit near the Third Street tunnel—-which would quickly be dubbed the “Purple Tunnel of Doom” because of how badly its crowd of purple ticketholders was managed—-started arguing over the radio with Lieutenant Ronald Netter. In an email, Royal tells City Desk that the dispute was over whether Royal was supposed to relieve Netter.

The dispute escalated when Royal, according to several witnesses, said something along the lines of, “Fuck that little faggot.” Among those offended by the display, according to one witness, were two older inauguration-goers:

But I remember the face on two elderly people…they were in shock; and when they started to walk away, the lady was saying, “Is that a Washington, D.C. police officer?”

Washington, eternally shamed. For his part, Royal insists he was saying “maggot.” You can understand the confusion.

Keep in mind that these aren’t your average patrolman here—-these are lieutenants. They’re only five ranks removed from police chief Cathy Lanier. Still, when you’ve got to brawl, you’ve got to brawl.

Royal biked over to Netter’s location elsewhere in the inauguration festivities, and things got even uglier. One sergeant later told an investigator that the two lieutenants were squaring off against each other like they were about to fight. Royal only calmed down when a higher-ranking MPD officer arrived.

MPD declined to comment on the case, but Royal was happy to, writing in an email that he’s unhappy with how his department handled the almost-tussle, which ended in him receiving a brief suspension. Royal is still dissatisfied with how the other lieutenant handled their initial fight over the inauguration relief.

“If he really wanted to resolve this issue, he could have easily called me on the phone,” he writes, adding, “(Yes, he has my phone number) (Yes, we do not get along).”

Photo by Darrow Montgomery