Alexandria City Council member Joyce Woodson (D) released a copy of the confidential complaint she made about a detective investigating her son in a vandalism case Monday, after the city had refused for several days to release the document and she had denied its existence.
In her two-page complaint, dated July 13 and penned on City Council letterhead, Woodson wrote to City Manager Philip G. Sunderland that she had an "unnecessarily ugly experience" with the police officer investigating her son and demanded the officer receive "remedial training" to better deal with the public. A police investigation later found the detective did nothing wrong.
"I was offended," Woodson wrote in the complaint, describing her encounter with Detective Adrienne Miller, who came to her home on July 9 to interview Woodson's son, Max, a suspect in a highly publicized egging case. "If she was willing to speak to a member of the City Council in this manner, how does she treat the general public?"
Woodson's complaint has sparked charges from Miller and the city's police union that Woodson was trying to harass and intimidate the officer and was abusing her position as a council member.
Woodson has denied these charges, but declined to elaborate further Monday.
"I don't have anything else to say about it," Woodson said.
Neither Sunderland nor City Attorney Ignacio B. Pessoa returned telephone messages seeking comment on Woodson or the police complaints.
Woodson did release a 29-page packet of information on the case that included a statement that read, in part, "I did nothing wrong in filing my complaint and have done nothing since that time to 1) influence the police investigation or 2) to harass a member of the Alexandria Police Department." She decried the "attacks on my character, veracity, parenting or leadership ability" and the "fictional story being suggested by the press and uttered by the Alexandria police union, Detective Miller and others."
"My good name and reputation in the community is questioned when I am repeatedly and falsely accused of lying and abusing my power as a member of the Alexandria City Council," Woodson wrote.
Miller, a decorated 11-year member of the department, had gone to Woodson's home to interview her 18-year-old son, Samuel Howard Woodson IV, known as Max, about the possibility that he was involved in a politically charged vandalism case.
Woodson was later convicted on a misdemeanor destruction of property charge for his role in the egging of the Del Ray home of a vocal critic of the Alexandria School Board, James Boissonnault. Woodson's accomplice that day was James Luby, the son of school board member Melissa Luby. Boissonnault has organized a petition drive to oust Luby from the board.
On Monday, Woodson also released copies of e-mails she sent and received from Sunderland and other city officials regarding various aspects of her son's case, including a "history of the calls, follow up investigation and eventual issuance of a summons agst Max" provided by police, Sunderland wrote Woodson in an e-mail.
Alexandria's police union, the Alexandria Committee of Police, Local 5, wrote in a letter to Woodson that her behavior was harassment and an abuse of her position in the city.
"We strongly protest it. . . . This harassment will not be ignored by this union," wrote the union's president, Sean McGowan. "Your obvious antipolice bias has not gone unnoticed and . . . I can assure you, we will do everything in our power during the next election to see that you are not re-elected to the city council."
On Monday, the detective released her report of the July 9 interview at Woodson's home, compiled as part of the police investigation that cleared her of wrongdoing.
Miller wrote in her narrative that, before she even went to the Woodsons' home, her supervisor, Sgt. Steven Carr, and another detective warned that she "should perhaps bring someone with me to the Woodson's as a witness, due to the confrontational manner in which the Woodson's, particularly Ms. Woodson, have treated several Officers/Detectives in the past (including myself on a previous occasion)." Both Woodson and her husband, S. Howard Woodson, the president of the Alexandria NAACP, have denied harassing the police.
When she arrived at the home to interview Max Woodson, Miller wrote, "Ms. Woodson immediately became very confrontational, saying, in a raised voice, such things as 'Max had nothing to do with that! You have no reason to talk to him! What evidence do you have?' "
Miller said she believed Max was involved in the egging and that his mother was already aware of his involvement. Woodson then shouted, according to Miller, "How dare you call me a liar!" Woodson also tried to prevent her son from speaking to Miller, the detective alleged.
In her complaint, Woodson wrote that she was "taken aback by [Miller's] attitude and general disrespect" in the exchange. "Her 'knowledge' of my awareness of a crime that my son allegedly committed suggested complicity on my part," she wrote.
She went on: "Perhaps Detective Miller had an axe to grind or was having a bad day. . . . The alleged crime which she sought to speak to my son was a childish prank and misdemeanor rather than a heinous crime."
Miller, 40, said she was still "very angry" about Woodson's accusations.
"What prompted this was she clearly differentiates herself from the general public," Miller said in an interview. "Her main complaint about me was that I didn't give her the preferential treatment she deserves."