Three veteran District of Columbia police officers were arrested yesterday on drug-related felony charges in connection with a year-long undercover investigation into the possible illegal use and sale of drugs within the police department. A fourth officer was arrested on a misdemeanor marijuana charge.
The three officers were charged with distribution of cocaine and were released on personal recognizance yesterday after being arraigned, while the officer charged with use of marijuana was given a citation and released.
All four have been placed on administrative leave with pay, and may later be suspended without pay, officials said.
The officers arrested on the cocaine charges were Darryl Maurice Williams, 28, of 1926 D St. NE, who was assigned to the 1st District; Bobby Walker, 34, of 146 Randolph St. NW, assigned to the 3rd District; and Bryson Laudenberger Jr., 34, of 2995 Brinkley Rd., Temple Hills, assigned to the 5th District.
The three officers pleaded not guilty to the charges yesterday in D.C. Superior Court. As a condition of their release, they were required to report to the Substance Abuse Administration for testing for drug use. Assistant U.S. Attorney E. Thomas Roberts told the court that prosecutors believed the officers were using drugs and dealing in them.
Williams, Walker and Laudenberger were all named, along with three other persons, in sealed grand jury indictments returned Tuesday. The indictments were unsealed yesterday. Law enforcement sources involved with the case said that the officers were not believed to be working together as part of a ring.
First District officer James R. Gibson, 31, of Capitol Heights, not a target of the investigation and not named in the indictments, was arrested on the marijuana charge.
Police said that while D.C. police officers have been arrested in the past on drug-related charges, with seven such arrests over the course of last year, never before had so many officers been arrested on drug charges at the same time.
Sources said that an overall investigation of possible drug use and distribution within the police department will continue, but police officials said the specific investigation that led to yesterday's arrests has ended.
Police also arrested Douglas Leon Pinder, 36, of 5100 Seventh St. NW, an educational counselor for the past four years at the Armstrong Adult Education Center. Roberts said in court that Pinder, who was named in the grand jury indictments, was "involved in the sale of drugs to police officers," but did not specify if Pinder was believed to have sold drugs to the officers arrested yesterday.
Roberts said arrests of two other civilians named in the grand jury indictments are expected within the next few days.
Police said the inquiry that resulted in the arrests yesterday began in March 1982 with the investigation of one officer. During the inquiry, officers from the department's internal affairs branch went undercover and bought drugs from some officers, said Assistant Police Chief William R. Dixon, who oversees the internal affairs branch.
"I'm not surprised after almost 30 years on the force to hear about something like this, but I'm always disappointed," Dixon said. "We will continue to vigorously investigate such allegations."
Police said Williams was arrested by internal affairs officers at 12:55 a.m. yesterday after he was found sitting in Gibson's car, which was parked in front of a service station in the 3800 block of Alabama Avenue SE. While arresting Williams, the police department said in a press release, the officers noticed a small amount of marijuana in the car and also arrested Gibson.
Williams is an eight-year veteran of the force and Gibson has served 10 years with the department.
Walker, a 13-year police veteran, was arrested at 6:28 a.m. at the 3rd District headquarters as he was reporting for work, police said.
Laudenberger, a nine-year veteran, was arrested at 9:30 a.m. at downtown police headquarters after internal affairs officers called him at home and asked him to turn himself in.
"I'm just taking a wait-and-see attitude," Laudenberger said after his arraignment. "You have to let the criminal justice process take its course."
He said he has been on sick leave from the department for the past three weeks as a result of an accident in a patrol car.