The D.C. police department, following the announcement of a grand jury probe of police Inspector Sammie Morrison, has decided it also will investigate the incident in which one of Morrison's civilian employes was released into his custody after the employe had been arrested and charged with first-degree burglary, a D.C. police spokesman said yesterday.
He said police also will investigate an attempt by another civilian employe of the department to pay the victim of the alleged burglary $500 in restitution if the victim would drop the charges.
The department's Internal Affairs Division will investigate, and if any criminal wrongdoing is discovered, will turn over its findings to the U.S. attorney's office, which announced on Wednesday that a grand jury will investigate the circumstances surrounding the release of the employe, Otto M. Autry, after his Jan. 26 arrest.
The U.S. attorney's office had said that it was never informed by the police department about Autry's arrest and release, which occurred on a Sunday. His release was approved by D.C. Superior Court Judge Sylvia Bacon. Morrison told a reporter that he called the judge at home and arranged for Autry to be released into his custody without consulting the U.S. attorney's office about the terms of the release -- an action that U.S. Attorney Joseph E. diGenova called "highly irregular."
Morrison is head of the police department's office of financial management, and Autry, the department's chief payroll clerk, works for him.
The Internal Affairs Division also will investigate the circumstances surrounding an offer, made two days after the arrest, by Paul C. Jones, another civilian employe of Morrison's, to give the victim of the alleged burglary a personal check from Autry for $500 to help pay for damages allegedly done to her home during the Jan. 26 incident.
In an interview yesterday, Jones acknowledged trying to give the homeowner, Crystal Harvey, a former girlfriend of Autry's, $500 in restitution and asking her to drop the charges against Autry.
Jones said he told Harvey that Autry intended to compensate her for all the damage done in the incident, which she has estimated at more than $1,900.
Harvey said she believed that "they the police want me to let it go," but that she does not intend to drop charges.
Jones said he saw nothing improper about offering to make restitution in Autry's behalf. He said he visited Harvey's home while off duty and made the offer as a friend of Autry's, and not as a police employe.
"If there's any problem, it's a problem with Paul Jones the citizen," he said. "It had nothing to do with the police department. This was friend to friend."