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Office of Police Complaints

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Mediation: Discrimination and Insulting, Demeaning Language

A woman filed a complaint alleging that an officer discriminated against her and her male friend because of their sexual orientation and used language that was insulting, demeaning, and humiliating. She recounted that she and her friend were walking from a Metro station after work when they were harassed and threatened by some teenagers who chased them with a gun. She called 911 and an officer appeared shortly thereafter. However, she said that when she tried to explain what happened, the officer would not let her talk and yelled at her and her friend. She believed that the officer made disparaging comments about her and her friend because they were gay and accused them of not telling the truth when the officer was unable to find a gun on the teenagers.

At the mediation, the officer listened to the woman describe the incident and explain why she was so upset about his behavior and language. He then recounted how chaotic the situation was with several people at the scene and conflicting stories from different people. He apologized immediately for not listening to her at the time. He said that he normally tries to listen to people and remembers that on this particular occasion there was so much confusion that he did not pay as much attention as he should have. As they talked, the citizen explained that this was not the first time the teens had harassed her and that she uses this Metro station regularly. That, and her belief that they did have a gun, was why she was so upset at the time. She acknowledged that because she was upset, she was talking very fast and interrupting the officer, which may have made it harder for him to hear her.

The officer explained the comments that he had made that evening and the citizen realized that she had misinterpreted what he had said. Each of them apologized to the other for the miscommunication. The officer provided his contact information so that the citizen could contact him if these teenagers bothered her again. The citizen expressed appreciation for the officer’s willingness to participate in the mediation and for the good work that MPD officers do for all citizens of the District of Columbia.