A D.C. Superior Court jury has awarded more than $30,000 to an 11-year police veteran who accused the department and several top officials--including former Chief Burtell Jefferson and current Chief Maurice T. Turner Jr.--of defamation, slander and malicious prosecution.
The officer, Vernon Henderson, 34, sued in December 1980, nearly a year after he was suspended without pay while the department investigated charges of theft against him.
The jury last Friday ordered the city to pay Henderson $30,000 for lost pay, and ordered Jefferson, Turner and Assistant Chief Marty Tapscott each to pay Henderson $200. In addition, five members of the department's internal affairs division each was ordered to pay Henderson $100.
City officials declined comment on the verdict.
Henderson's attorney, Geraldine Gennet, said the department's internal affairs division in December 1979 placed $106.43 in marked money in a wallet and put the wallet in bushes in the 4600 block of 16th Street NW. Henderson, she said, was sent to pick it up.
Gennet said Henderson picked up the wallet but did not list the money--which Henderson said he did not see--on an inventory record before turning it in to the property office. Gennet said Henderson was arrested as he left the 4th District headquarters, although the money was found in the wallet 20 minutes after the arrest. Jefferson suspended Henderson pending investigation.
Fifteen months later, a police trial board cleared Henderson of charges that he took the money, but faulted him for minor infractions growing out of the incident, Gennet said.
Turner reinstated Henderson, Gennet said, but refused to give him back pay because he had sued the department.