A top D.C. police commander harassed a motorist during a traffic stop in 2003 and improperly used his "professional authority" to issue a ticket, a city agency that investigates citizen complaints against officers has concluded.
Although the agency's decision did not name the commander, police and city officials identified him as Assistant Chief Brian Jordan, 45, who oversees patrol operations in the 1st and 5th police districts. In an interview yesterday, Jordan denied any wrongdoing. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said an internal review is underway.
The findings by the D.C. Office of Police Complaints, an independent agency, stem from a January 2003 incident involving Jordan and an unidentified motorist. The motorist, a nurse at Georgetown University Hospital, alleged that Jordan tried to force her out of an exit lane on New York Avenue NE, the report states.
The woman said that Jordan, who was trying to move into the lane, pointed a finger at her and stated, "Let me in there or I'll throw you in jail." The woman apparently did not realize that Jordan was an officer because he was off-duty and was not in uniform and was driving an unmarked police cruiser, the report states. After exchanging more words, the woman called 911 and drove toward a parked patrol car.
Jordan followed the woman, approached the officers in the patrol car and borrowed a ticket book from them. He then cited her for failing to yield the right of way.
The Office of Police Complaints concluded that the incident amounted to harassment, writing that Jordan "used his professional authority to respond to a personal affront." The agency also found that Jordan broke departmental rules by making a traffic stop out of uniform and in an unmarked car.
The findings were forwarded to police last month. Under D.C. law, Ramsey must impose some form of discipline or ask the complaints office for further review. No disciplinary action has yet been taken, Ramsey said.
Jordan, who joined the department in 1983, said he was being targeted by the complaint office because he is a high-ranking officer. "I think it became a situation where they felt they had a big fish," he said.
The woman eventually paid the ticket, said Jordan, who called the payment an admission of guilt.
"A violation in your presence is not a personal affront," Jordan said. "It's called taking police action."
Philip K. Eure, executive director of the complaints office, said "the decision shows that the system works."
Sgt. Gregory I. Greene, chairman of the D.C. police labor committee for Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1, said a rank-and-file officer would be severely punished in a similar instance. "They should take this seriously," Greene said.