This might be my final installment into the saga that is the life of Captain Melvin Gresham—-a D.C. Police Department official who appears to always be in the center of intrigue and controversy. According to his civil-suit complaint filed in June, Gresham is a hero/whistle blower/all-around standup cop. To cop sources, he’s a supervisor who needs some leadership training asap.
“I had to bang heads with him, very disagreeable is the way he investigated things. He never has any proof. When we go to arbitration against him, he loses most of the arbitrations. We’ve had several arbitration hearings with our members and he’s lost. All the evidence is, ‘What I heard.’ Nothing ever of substance. He never has any real evidence against anybody. When you’re a policeman, you have to have solid facts,” says one veteran officer.
The current Gresham dustup stems from a traffic accident. The allegation: Gresham got into a fender bender and pressured an officer to change the accident report in his favor.
In Gresham’s complaint, he addresses the accident on page 10, bullet-point No. 23. Or rather, he dances around the allegations, focusing mainly on picking apart the testimony and character of Lt. Mike Smith.
The complaint hones in on anonymous letter (was it written by Smith?), Smith’s believing that Gresham is a very rich man, and the allegation that Smith admitted to “tampering” with evidence. “Lt. Smith was off duty and had no actual basis for interjecting himself into the investigation,” the complaint states.
The complaint notes that the police department withdrew the charges against Gresham. “However, Chief Lanier insisted on serving Cpt. Gresham an official reprimand.” The reprimand addresses the very serious allegation of witness intimidation:
According to the complaint, the reprimand reads:
“Internal Affairs Agent Denise Garrett investigated the alleged misconduct. Agent Garrett determined that your demeanor and subsequent confrontation with the reporting officer was intimidating and may have jeopardized the impartiality of the accident investigation.”
Not surprisingly, the complaint alleges that Garrett was pressured to issue the official reprimand. The reprimand—-according to the complaint—-goes on to state:
“This official reprimand is a written censor being issued to you as a formal notice of your unsatisfactory conduct. This notice will be considered in performance evaluations and will be used in deciding greater degrees of disciplinary action within a three-[year] period.”
A few days ago, I interviewed Lt. Smith about the allegations addressed by various anonymous or otherwise comments on City Desk. Here’s his response:
“An Update — within days of the erroneous information by WTOP and the FOX 5 new interview of Capt Melvin Gresham, Chief Cathy Lanier DROPPED all charges against him.”
“He’s not at 3D. As far as I know, he’s still on limited duty,” says Lt. Smith.
“Lt Smith was off duty at the time of the event — Lt Smith who allegedly witnessed this “gross” misconduct failed to notified IAD (until months later after he, himself became under investigation for another matter.)”
“I was off duty on the way to work. Didn’t witness it. [Gresham] called communications. I went right there as soon as it came out, I have to drive past there on my way to work. I never knew that he changed the report until I was called by IAD. I notified the commander what the captain tried to do the very next morning (after the accident),” Smith says.
“Lt. Smith allowed a METRO supervisor to enter the 3D officers report writing area to assist the officer in taking the 10-50 report — since when is that allowed????”
“Completely false,” Smith says. “The last time I ever saw [the Metro supervisor] was when they were on the scene. He was never at the station to my knowledge. Wow somebody’s really telling a big lie.”
“The Metro supervisor refused to be interviewed during the IAD portion of the investigation.”
“Don’t know.” Smith says.
“3D commander and assistant commander were notified by Lt SMith the following day of what he allegedly witnessed while in an off duty capacity. But no investigation was conducted until Jan 2008.”
“I didn’t know that the captain had changed the report,” Lt. Smith says.
“The Dept’s 90 rule began the moment management knew or should have known — the moment Lt Smith witnessed whatever he claimed to have witnessed began the clock.”
“The allegations were that the captain ordered the officer to change the report,” Lt. Smith says. “As far as I’m concerned, it was a criminal violation. The investigation doesn’t start until the attorney general’s office says they’re going to prosecute.”
“Lt. Smith’s failure to nitfy IAD was never investigated, his failure to timely notify Commander McCoy was never investigated, his failure to acknowledge that he allowed the METRO supervisor (who was not involved nor on the scene at the time of the accident) inside secure 3D facility to assist the officer in writing his report.”
“I never saw the metro investigator,” Lt. Smith says. “I told the commander the very next day what happened up until the report was changed. I didn’t know the report was changed.”
Lt. Smith: “I have no credibility issues….My take on the lawsuit. I haven’t been served. There are people named on the lawsuit that retired five or six years ago. Jose Acosta retired five or six years ago.”
On conspiring with Lanier or other top officials: “I got 15 days suspension pending. If that was the case, I’m sure Lanier would have taken care of that problem,” Lt. Smith says. “I had to work with this guy right up until the time he was revoked.”
Lt. Smith says: “I’m not trying to retaliate against him.”
After the accident, Gresham initiated two adverse actions against Smith. “I think I’m picking up one more because I was pissed off about the other two,” Lt. Smith says. “I had a fit.”