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AG Peter Nickles has been ordered by a U.S. District Court judge to submit a sworn statement on Wednesday explaining all the problems in a Pershing Park case. Last week, we reported on two documents he may want to explain: the false affidavit submitted to the court by his office, and the deposition of a police official detailing all the running resumes that suddenly disappeared.
This is not the first time a District official has had to submit a sworn statement explaining why evidence in this case went missing. Nickles may want to consider revisiting and explaining the affidavit submitted to the court by the D.C. Police Department‘s deputy general counsel Ronald B. Harris.
Harris submitted his statement after the court ordered the District to either produce evidence in the case or explain why they could not. Harris had to explain why the running resume had disappeared. He made his statement on November 16, 2007.
Harris essentially begins his statement by saying that as soon as litigation had been filed for the Pershing Park case, he started “to immediately assist OAG counsel assigned to represent the District of Columbia and other defendants.”
Harris states that his immediate assistance did not include tracking down the running resume. The running resume is the document produced by the Joint Operations Control Center during the Pershing Park incident. This is a real time document that is the essential play-by-play of events from official orders to when certain units took lunch breaks.
Harris would be foolish not to have known about the running resume or not to have made the request himself—-if only to help prepare a defense. It’s such a basic document that the request to review it should have been mere formality.
Harris’ statement contradicts the deposition testimony of Sgt. Douglas Jones who stated that multiple copies of the running resume had been made, that the circulating of copies was standard procedure. Jones went on to state that his supervisor had ordered him to furnish to produce the running resume probably at the request of Harris’ office.
Instead, Harris pleads ignorance. He states that he did not get a request for the running resume until OAG lawyer Tom Koger took the case. As proof, Harris states: “I have reviewed the records of the Office of the General Counsel and did not find a request from prior OAG counsel to locate the JOCC running resume or communication tapes of radio trasmissions that ocurred during the demonstrations on September 27, 2002.”
He later states: “I do not have any recollection or record of ever receiving the JOCC resume for the September 2002 event.”
It appears that in late 2003, Harris states that he did receive a number of verbal requests for the running resume from the OAG. In response, he states that “I would have contacted those persons within the department who would have access to the running resume.”
Harris does state that he made requests of various police officials—-including Sgt. Jones—-in 2003 for the running resume. He again made requests two years later. He does not state that after failing to locate the running resume that he ordered any investigation into how this document went missing.
Keep in mind, Jones testified in his deposition that he knew of at least 12 physical copies and two electronic files of the running resume that had existed at one time.
Two years later, in fall 2007, Harris states that the hunt for the running resume started up again.
Why did Harris start looking for the running resume some two years later? The court ordered the District to look for the document.
From October 2007 to the time of his sworn statement in November 2007, Harris provides a much more detailed accounting of his search. The way Harris tells it—-his efforts were almost heroic. For example:
“On October 17, 2007, I personally searched a file cabinet that (former D.C. Police supervisor) Gaffigan had used when he was director of Quality Assurance as well as his former office with negative results.”
And finally, Harris’ testimony directly contradicts the deposition testimony of Sgt. Jones. Jones had testified that he had received a request from his then-supervisor Neil Trugman for the running resume soon after the Pershing Park incident. Jones stated that he turned over the resume to Trugman. Harris states:
“On November 8, 2007, and November 12, 2007, I spoke with Neil Trugman who was assigned as the Law Enforcement Coordinator to work with Mr. Gaffigan. He advised that he does not recall receiving a resume from Sgt. Jones. He also stated that he conducted a search of his records and did not find a copy.”
Jones concluded his statement: “I declare under penalty of perjury … that the foregoing is true and correct.”