Union chief's suit can proceed
A federal judge on Thursday denied a request by the District government and police Chief Cathy L. Lanier to dismiss a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit brought by Kristopher Baumann, chairman of the D.C. police labor committee for Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 1.
U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly allowed Baumann's first amendment and D.C. Whistleblower Protection Act claims to go forward, but said he could ask only for the court to enforce provisions of a 2004 D.C. law concerning police investigations of first amendment-related activities. He cannot ask for damages or seek the court to impose fines or discipline police officials under the law, the judge ruled.
Baumann alleged that Lanier launched an internal affairs leak investigation against him and monitored a public talk by him after he asked the union's safety committee to investigate the department's handling of a May 30, 2009, incident in which police approved the use of deadly force and shot tear gas at a man barricaded at a house.
The investigation focused on whether Baumann improperly disclosed information about the incident to the news media, including The Washington Post.
In court papers, the District argued that the investigation of the unauthorized release of a police radio recording was legitimate and assigning an officer to listen to Baumann's remarks did not violate his free-speech rights.
Washington Post editors
| September 30, 2010; 4:27 PM ET
Categories: Cathy L. Lanier, From the Courthouse, Spencer S. Hsu, The District
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