An article yesterday incorrectly said that a lawsuit filed by two Alexandria police officers and one former officer there named City Manager Douglas Harman as a defendant. The city of Alexandria, its public safety director and a police officer were the defendants.
The controversy over the Alexandria Police Department moved into a new forum yesterday when two police officers and a former detective filed a lawsuit against three city officials in U.S. District Court there, saying their civil rights were violated by the officials.
Burglary investigator Joseph Morrash, Patrolman Morton M. Ford and former police investigator Charles Cox alleged that Public Safety Director Charles T. Strobel and Lt. John Stedman harassed, intimidated and retaliated against them after they questioned their superiors' actions.
Alexandria City Manager Douglas Harman also was named a defendant because, the plaintiffs claimed, the city failed "to exercise adequate supervision and control over Strobel in the conduct of his office."
A special Alexandria grand jury is investigating an allegation from the three officers that Strobel cut short a 1984 drug investigation despite what the officers have said were promising leads.
In their lawsuit, the three men asked $850,000 in compensation and punitive damages from the three city officials. All the officials said the lawsuit's claims were groundless.
Strobel called the suit's allegations "a bunch of nonsense." Harman said the suit shows that "somebody doesn't know anything about what they're doing."
John Grad, a lawyer for Stedman, who heads the police office of personnel and training, termed the allegations "hogwash."
The complaint alleges that Strobel and Stedman "engaged in a pattern of abuse of office for the purpose of serving Strobel's personal and political ends" when they "manipulated investigations, covered up information and engaged in favoritism."
It charges that the two police officials "abused departmental disciplinary and personnel policies" and sought to "chill the exercise by rank-and-file police officers of their constitutional right to organize for their collective benefit."
The suit charges that Strobel and Stedman made "false and malicious" allegations about the three men's motivations, character and competence when they attempted to do an "unbiased inquiry" into why the 1984 drug probe was terminated and into a 1983 matter regarding allegations against Stedman.
The suit asks Strobel, Stedman and Harman to supply information about their friendships with one another, with Alexandria City Sheriff Michael E. Norris and with other police officials.