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One of the big mysteries in the Pershing Park case centers around the gaps in the radio dispatches during the mass arrests on Sept. 27, 2002. Plaintiffs lawyers have long argued in U.S. District Court that the tapes turned over by the District contained gaps at the crucial time of the arrests.
When 400 individuals are rounded up and arrested in a park, it seems reasonable that there would be some police radio activity.
For a time at least, the Office of the Attorney General defended those tapes as being a complete recording of the infamous police activities in Pershing Park. Exhibit A: The affidavit of Denise Alexander [PDF].
At the time, Alexander worked as a training instructor with the District’s Office of Unified Communications. In her sworn declaration, she stated: “I did not detect anything technically deficient with the recordings.”
Plaintiffs attorneys countered with deposition testimony from D.C. Police Inspector James Crane [PDF] who stated that the tapes were indeed faulty.
So how did Alexander get it so wrong?
In February, Alexander was deposed. She admitted that she did not write nor edit a word of her false affidavit. In fact, that affidavit was given to her to sign by the D.C. Police Department’s Deputy General Counsel Ron Harris.
According to court records and sources familiar with the matter, Alexander is clear that she did not understand or have knowledge of the allegations surrounding the problematic tapes. She was just happy that Harris had given her the extra work assignment. She was paid overtime for her tape review.
It appears that Alexander did not actually review the tapes for gaps. In an e-mail she had sent to Harris, it seems she only checked to see if the time stamps were accurate. When she was given Crane’s testimony to review, she admitted that she didn’t quite understand it. Crane’s refutation of her affidavit may have been too technical.
Alexander admitted that she didn’t even understand her affidavit. She just signed it.
The one person in charge of that affidavit, who actually understood it, and who had been aware of the controversy surrounding the faulty tapes was D.C. Police Deputy General Counsel Ron Harris.
*file photo by Darrow Montgomery.