The D.C. cop who was just demoted after clashing publicly with Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier, Hilton Burton, says his lawyer is preparing yet another lawsuit against MPD. “They can say what they want,” Burton says of getting his career shifted into reverse. “It’s a bunch of shit.”
Burton already has two civil suits pending against the department, both of which cast Lanier as anti-hero. One lawsuit contends that Lanier demoted Burton for no reason in 2007, though he was later promoted back to his previous rank, and the other that Lanier has been trying to purge the department of black males. You can bet that any new complaint Burton files will do the same.
Some recent friction between Lanier and Burton led to Burton testifying to the D.C. Council that Lanier and other top commanders were complicit in the arranging of unofficial police escorts for celebrities like Charlie Sheen. On Tuesday, Lanier announced that Burton had been demoted from his plum position as commander of Special Operations Division—-which executed the controversial police escorts—- to the much less sexy position of being a captain at the D.C. Police and Fire Clinic.
Lanier has said she slapped Burton down because of some of his command decisions. Burton says he was told by a superior that he was being demoted because he hadn’t kept tabs on the maintenance of a tactical vehicle, because he was “overly aggressive” during a barricade situation, and because he wasn’t “enthusiastic” enough about implementing a new overtime policy. Burton doesn’t buy that, and neither does his attorney.
In an email to Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Paul Quander (also now Mayor Vince Gray‘s acting chief of staff),Burton’s lawyer E. Scott Frison asserts the demotion was actually meant to send a message: Don’t mess with the chief. “This latest retaliatory action taken by Chief Lanier against Commander Burton is intended to intimidate every sworn officer who might be predisposed to challenge Chief Lanier’s biased approach to management.”
Last month, Burton reminisced that he and Lanier were once eager rookies together: “We’ve known each other since we were officers, got promoted up the ranks together,” he told me. The beefy cop seemed to be wondering how things had gone so wrong.