D.C. police escort of Charlie Sheen motorcade under investigation, official says

Charlie Sheen, who likes to say, “I’m an F-18, bro,” was moving at a decidedly subsonic speed Tuesday evening as he motored to Washington from Dulles International Airport. Still, 80 mph in a sport-utility vehicle is pretty fast.

At the time, Sheen was running nearly an hour late for his stage show, “Violent Torpedo of Truth: Defeat Is Not an Option,” at DAR Constitution Hall.

But you might wonder: Who authorized the D.C. police escort — at least two marked cars with emergency lights blazing — that helped the fired sitcom star and his entourage hurry into the District?

How important or famous must one be — how much tiger blood and Adonis DNA must one possess — to rate a police motorcade in the nation’s capital?

How is such a thing arranged? And what does it cost?

You’ll have to wonder awhile longer: As of Thursday, 48 hours after Sheen had come and gone, no one in his camp or the police department would publicly explain the deployment of law enforcement resources.

“Citizens of the District don’t want to see their police force used to escort private citizens and that Charlie Sheen, of all people, is getting a personal escort,” said D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), chairman of the committee that oversees police.

Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier did not reply to e-mailed questions. Sheen’s publicist and tour promoter said they had no answers. And a spokeswoman for Constitution Hall said the venerable venue had nothing to do with the actor’s commute.

“This entire matter is under investigation,” D.C. police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump said Thursday, declining to answer questions about the escort.

Such a murky affair. Try to follow along. . . .

Although the D.C. police Web site describes how the department deals with visiting dignitaries, nothing could be found on it explaining how, say, a Hollywood celebrity running late for a stage gig can arrange a high-speed motor escort.

“From what I know right now, I have asked internal affairs to investigate,” Lanier told reporter Paul Wagner of WTTG-TV (Channel 5) outside the city’s John A. Wilson Building. “Because, from what the allegation is, it is not something that’s authorized by the Metropolitan Police Department.”

The department provides police escorts in “limited circumstances . . . based on security needs, and there are protocols to be followed,” the chief said. “We don’t do escorts for celebrities.”

The department’s special events branch works on “planning, developing and executing escort and security support,” but only for “distinguished guests of the federal and municipal governments,” the site says.

The phone in the special events branch rang and rang Thursday. No one answered, and there was no voice mail. The branch is part of the police homeland security bureau, which is commanded by Assistant Chief Lamar Greene.

Greene said Thursday that he had not personally looked into the Sheen matter. “I know, of course, there’s a lot of inquiries floating around about it,” he said, adding that the department “has put together a fact sheet that will pretty much answer any- and everything you guys need to know.”

Was the escort proper? “Oh, yes,” Greene said without elaborating.

Asked about the fact sheet, Crump said: “Oh, that’s an internal document. That’s not something we’re putting out. . . . It’s part of our investigation.”

Sheen, who was busy in Los Angeles with two court hearings Tuesday morning, including a child-custody dispute with estranged wife Brooke Mueller, arrived at Dulles that night on a private jet. It was still unclear Thursday whether the escort began at the airport in suburban Virginia.

Mendelson said Lanier told him that the escort started outside the city. He said the chief was “very clearly caught off-guard” by news of Sheen’s ride.

“[I]n car with Police escort in front and rear!” Sheen, 45, said in a message posted to his Twitter account (@charliesheen) as he and his posse were headed to the city in two SUVs. “[D]riving like someone’s about to deliver a baby! Cop car lights #Spinning!”

Accompanying the tweet, which appears to have been deleted, was a photo taken in the SUV carrying Sheen, showing the speedometer needle at 80 mph, with the flashing strobe lights of the lead police car visible through the windshield. Sheen was quick to tell reporters about his fast ride into the city when he arrived at Constitution Hall.

The show, scheduled to start at 8 p.m., was delayed for 57 minutes. “I just landed,” he told the waiting news media at the stage door. “We had a police escort, and we ran more red lights than Brooke Mueller heading to a pawn shop.”

On Wednesday, when asked about the police cars, Crump described the deployment as routine. “This escort was handled as a reimbursable detail,” she said in an e-mail. “This means the government was reimbursed for the services provided.”

The department’s Web site defines a “reimbursable detail” as one in which on-duty officers are posted at public events such as festivals and parades to direct traffic, control crowds and “ensure the safety of public patrons.”

An event organizer is required to sign a letter of agreement beforehand, promising to reimburse the department for the cost of deploying officers.

When Crump was asked how a TV star’s drive into the city from an airport fit the definition of “reimbursable detail,” she would only say that the matter is being investigated.

Bren Landon, a spokeswoman for Constitution Hall, suggested that questions about the escort might best be put to Sheen’s handlers.

“Constitution Hall operates under a four-wall rental, which means a promoter rents the venue, books the act, and then is responsible for all aspects of the show, including security, ticketing, ushering, etc.,” she said in an e-mail.

Sheen’s tour promoter, Joey Scoleri of Live Nation, had no answers. “Please deal with Larry,” he said in an e-mail referring to Sheen’s publicist, Larry Solters.

Solters was also no help. He said he was in Los Angeles on Tuesday. “I am in LA and was not aware of any arrangements,” his e-mail said. “Will check with our on site reps.”

Then later: “Haven’t been able to get any info on this.”

The mystery endures.

Tuesday’s Washington performance marked the halfway point of Sheen’s 20-city show tour. On Thursday night, he was set to rant at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. It wasn’t clear how fast he got to the stage door. An Atlanta police spokesman said the department “has not been asked to provide any escorts.”

Mary Pat Flaherty works on investigative and long-range stories. Her work has won numerous national awards, including the Pulitzer Prize.
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