HWG’s Roy Austin Represents MPD Sergeant in Whistleblowing Case
Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Sergeant Charlotte Djossou filed a complaint in D.C. Superior Court today against the MPD for retaliating against her after she reported that MPD illegally targeted young men for arrest in primarily black neighborhoods, according to her attorneys Lynne Bernabei of Bernabei & Kabat PLLC and Roy L. Austin, Jr. of Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP.
Sergeant Djossou joined the MPD in 2004 after honorable service in both the Army and the National Guard. She received excellent reviews and steady promotion through the MPD’s ranks, rising to the position of Sergeant.
Sgt. Djossou reported to her superiors that police management had instructed officers to go into black neighborhoods with two to four police cars, in a “snake” formation, “jump out” and make arrests of young men of color, without probable cause. She also reported that an officer had instructed that they purposefully delay turning on required Body Worn Cameras until after the start of the search. After she reported these illegal activities, MPD refused to transfer her to a detective position it had promised her and started a baseless Internal Affairs investigation of her.
In 2019, she reported other police misconduct, including misclassifying felonies as misdemeanors to help officers win awards and promotions. After her report, the MPD downgraded her performance appraisal and filed false disciplinary charges against her. She testified before the D.C. Council on January 16, 2020, about police misconduct, and when the D.C. Council did nothing after her testimony, the MPD continued its retaliation against her.
“She felt she had to file this lawsuit because neither the Police Chief nor the D.C. Council took action to stop the misconduct or the retaliation against her,” said Lynne Bernabei, Bernabei & Kabat PLLC, one of her attorneys.
“Sergeant Djossou has devoted her career to protecting the community, including the Black community,” said Roy L. Austin, Jr. of Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP, another of her attorneys. “We seek justice for Sergeant Djossou and protection other officers willing to report illegal conduct.”
Similar to Sgt. Djossou’s reports, which started in 2015, two dozen Black Assistant United States Attorneys recently criticized MPD for racial targeting of Black residents.