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On the surface, 2021 was a pretty good year for Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Chief Andre Wright. In May, Chief Robert Contee promoted Wright from commander of the Seventh District to assistant chief; in that role, he now oversees the First, Sixth, and Seventh police districts. And in October, he was named 2020’s commander of the year at MPD’s annual awards ceremony.
But as Wright assumed the second-highest rank in the department, his now ex-wife filed an official complaint with the department, accusing him of having sex with a subordinate officer, misusing MPD resources, and drinking on the job.
Wright says MPD’s internal affairs division investigated his ex-wife’s allegations, but he would not describe the outcome and instead referred City Paper to IAD. He says the allegations are only coming to light now because of their contentious divorce, which was recently finalized.
“There is no abuse of power,” he says. “I’ve been on this job for nearly 28 years. I’ve never abused my power. The fact that this witch hunt is still going on is concerning.”
In June 2021, Lee Wright emailed Contee to report that Andre Wright had been having an affair with a subordinate lieutenant. (Andre Wright confirmed the affair in the couple’s divorce filings, portions of which were shared with City Paper.) In the email, which City Paper reviewed, Lee Wright cited screenshots of text messages to support her claim that Andre Wright asked an MPD employee to have the lieutenant’s personal car detailed. She also alleged that Andre Wright had sex with the lieutenant in his office, and vacationed with her while crime in the Seventh District was surging. In a follow up complaint, submitted on an official form known as a “P.D. 119,” Lee Wright also alleged that Andre Wright drank while on duty and in his police vehicle. (To avoid having her name published in connection with Andre Wright’s alleged behavior, Lee Wright asked to be identified by her middle name.)
When the affair began, the lieutenant worked as Andre Wright’s administrative sergeant when he was commander of the Seventh District, according to former Assistant Chief Chanel Dickerson, who used to be close friends with Andre Wright. The lieutenant was later promoted and transferred out from under his command, according to Dickerson, who says Andre Wright acknowledged having sex with the lieutenant on MPD premises. (Dickerson is a plaintiff in a lawsuit against MPD, alleging discrimination based on race and sex.)
“I see the distraction not just with him but with the police agency as a whole,” Lee Wright says. “And that distraction is resulting in a loss of lives. That’s not OK, [and] even beyond that, there has got to be some sort of code of ethics that we expect our sworn officers to live by.”
Contee quickly acknowledged Lee Wright’s June email, and an IAD agent soon followed up to ask for more details. The agent told her he would forward her complaint to MPD executives for a potential disciplinary decision. The chief has final say in all disciplinary matters, according to MPD’s general orders. “But I never heard anything from anyone,” Lee Wright says. Four months later, MPD’s internal selectors named Andre Wright commander of the year.
“I’ll be honest with you, had they circled back, I might not even be talking to you today,” she says. “But the reality is, the department is saying, ‘Fuck you, fuck this, we’re gonna do whatever we want to do.’ I’ve been quiet, but the bodies falling? Yeah, that reeks of a department that lacks integrity.”
Contee did not respond to City Paper’s request for an interview, and an MPD spokesperson declined to provide details of the investigation into Andre Wright, including what action, if any, the department took in response to Lee Wright’s complaint.
Lee Wright says the divorce isn’t motivating her to speak out. In her view, Andre Wright’s workplace affair, and his alleged misconduct, are distractions from his duty to keep people safe.
“I know people are sleeping with everybody’s everybody. It’s pervasive. But people are dying while these people are distracted,” Lee Wright says. “It is not a surprise given this group of leaders, that they are not able to get their arms around crime.”
June 2021 was not the first time Lee Wright contacted MPD about her now ex-husband. In an interview with City Paper, she recalls receiving a frantic call from Andre Wright sometime in the fall of 2005. She had just picked up their kids, and he told her not to go home. She demanded to know what was going on, she says, but Andre Wright would not say and hung up.
Lee Wright took the kids to a nearby restaurant to kill time and wait for her husband to call. When it was safe to return to their house, she says, Andre Wright told her what happened:
He said he was giving a ride to a female officer, and at some point the female officer’s husband started to follow them, Lee Wright recalls Andre Wright telling her. A chase ensued all the way to the Seventh District, where Andre Wright and the female officer worked. The female officer’s husband told Andre Wright, “If you’re going to keep fucking with my family, I’m gonna go fuck with yours,” Lee Wright says Andre Wright told her.
Andre Wright, who was a sergeant in the Seventh District at the time, then enlisted another MPD officer to help him conduct a “safety sweep,” with their guns drawn, of his home in Upper Marlboro, Lee Wright says her husband told her.
Lee Wright had learned Andre Wright was having an affair with the female officer, who was a subordinate at the time, she says. “Andre also admitted, once the affair fully came to light, that he was having sexual relations with [the female officer] in 7D, in the closets,” Lee Wright says. “He admitted that to me.”
She says she reported the affair to MPD, but never received a response. The couple agreed to try and reconcile, Lee Wright says, but by 2019 evidence of Andre Wright’s affair with the lieutenant, and his alleged professional misconduct, started to pile up.
In March of 2020, Andre Wright was hospitalized with COVID-19, Lee Wright says. In her complaint, and in an interview with City Paper, she says MPD asked to retrieve his department-issued vehicle in order to sanitize it, so he asked her to clean out his personal belongings. Lee Wright says she found roughly 12 to 15 empty mini liquor bottles in the center console.
She confronted Andre Wright and “cautioned him about drinking in his police vehicle and told him he needed to do some deep introspection while in the hospital as his actions were spiraling and going to cost him his job,” she wrote in her complaint. “He agreed.”
She also alleged in her complaint that after he returned to work in May of 2020, she noticed “there were several times over the course of the week that he would come home inebriated (tipsy).” She said she started sporadically checking his police vehicle and found more empty bottles of alcohol and bags from their local liquor store.
In January 2021, Lee Wright wrote in her complaint, the two of them talked early in the morning and Andre Wright “admitted to drinking on his way to work, at work, before Monday and Tuesday meetings at headquarters, in his car on the way home.”
Although Lee Wright doesn’t know how MPD resolved her complaint, she says it would not surprise her if Andre Wright faced no discipline. She says MPD had known for years that Commander William Fitzgerald was getting rides in patrol cars to and from a bar late at night. Only after a WJLA sting investigation earlier this year did the department put the then-Fifth District commander on leave. Fitzgerald retired soon after WJLA released its report.
“That cover-up culture, that shit’s not cool,” she says. “And my father was a police officer. I don’t have a disdain for law enforcement, but I do understand broadly this whole notion of the law being above the law, and that’s bullshit. The law has to embody and exude the spirit and letter of it at all times, especially when they’re in service. And the fact that the organization covers up when the law is breaking the law, that’s not OK.”
In a portion of the couple’s divorce proceedings that City Paper reviewed, Andre Wright acknowledges the two affairs that his ex-wife has described. He says in the filings that the first affair with the woman whose husband threatened his family involved three “discrete encounters” in hotels. (Lee Wright disputes that in an interview with City Paper.)
The second, involving the lieutenant, started in 2019, according to the divorce filings. At the time, he was the commander of the Seventh District, and she was his administrative sergeant. Andre Wright says in the divorce filings that they had “private and discreet encounters” at her residence. Lee Wright disputes that claim as well, and Dickerson, the retired assistant chief who was once close with Andre Wright, says he admitted to having sex with the woman in the office.
“Assistant Chief Wright told me they had sex in the office,” Dickerson says. “He told me that she performed oral sex on him in the office, and he performed vaginal sex with her on his desk.”
Although it’s unclear if Andre Wright faced any repercussions as a result of Lee Wright’s complaint, the department has publicly held him up as an exemplary officer.
When he was named 2020’s commander of the year, the awards ceremony program states that Andre Wright oversaw “double-digit decreases” in total numbers of sex abuses, arsons, thefts, and burglaries. But the program incorrectly says homicides in the Seventh District decreased by double digits—they decreased by 8 percent, from 60 to 55, according to MPD’s annual report. And while arson technically decreased by 50 percent, in real numbers that’s a drop from two incidents in 2019 to one in 2020.
The annual report also shows that assault with a dangerous weapon in the Seventh District increased by 26 percent (from 314 to 395), and robbery increased by 16 percent (from 263 to 304). Overall violent crime in the Seventh District increased by 17 percent (from 668 to 780), by far the highest increase of any police district.
Since his promotion to assistant chief, Andre Wright has taken multiple vacations and out-of-town trips, according to social media posts. Recently, the lieutenant posted a video on social media of her and Andre Wright at a swanky out-of-town hotel over Fourth of July weekend, which is a particularly violent period of time in the District most years. Meanwhile, D.C. officials and police were acutely focused on the anticipated carnage. Gun violence and homicides this year in D.C. are steadily increasing and are on pace to top 2021’s homicide total of 226.
By the end of the holiday weekend, at least 19 people were shot, and five were killed, according to news reports. All but two of the shootings, and four of the five homicides, occurred east of the Anacostia River, in the police districts under Andre Wright’s command.