Anne Arundel councilman may subpoena police chief

A lawmaker who alleged possible "institutional dishonesty" at the Anne Arundel County Police Department said Monday that the police chief's response does not resolve whether officers caught up in a civil case against County Executive John R. Leopold may have lied.

Councilman Jamie Benoit said he may subpoena Chief Larry W. Tolliver and police officers to testify before the County Council. He said he also may demand documents from a recently concluded internal affairs investigation into the affidavit one of the officers gave in the federal civil case.

His comments come after Tolliver responded to his request for a full investigation into statements officers made in a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by Leopold's former press aide Karla Hamner. In her civil lawsuit, Hamner contends that Leopold ordered her fired for complaining about his behavior.

A police internal affairs investigation prompted by a complaint Hamner made could "neither prove nor disprove" whether one officer lied, Tolliver wrote.

In publicly acknowledging the investigation for the first time, Tolliver wrote that investigators did not determine the complaint unfounded. The police chief also said he was not looking into the depositions four other officers gave in the case.

"This is outside the boundaries of the complaint that was made," Tolliver wrote. "The legal issues concerning Ms. Hamner's cases will be decided in a court of law."

Leopold has denied wrongdoing in the pending case.

The allegations center on sworn statements five officers gave in the case. The depositions from four officers describe a chain of events that imply that a fifth officer carried out an order from Leopold to ensure Hamner did not land a permanent job after she was transferred to a temporary position in the Police Department.

The fifth officer signed an affidavit that said he was not influenced when interviewing job candidates.

Benoit, in a letter to Tolliver last week, said the conflicting information made it clear "someone was lying" and accused the Leopold administration of being unwilling to publicly explain what happened.

Benoit, a Crownsville Democrat, said criminal cases could be jeopardized by unresolved perjury allegations.

"There shouldn't be any tolerance for it at all," Benoit said.

Tolliver said he would cooperate with an investigation if county prosecutors undertake one. State's attorney spokeswoman Kristin Fleckenstein said she could not comment on whether prosecutors had launched a probe.

But questions about the truthfulness of police officers spell trouble for prosecutors, who might have to drop cases to avoid relying on the testimony of an officer whose integrity is being challenged, longtime attorney T. Joseph Touhey said.

"Anytime police officers disagree with each other under oath, it is not good for prosecutors," said Leonard R. Stamm, a former president of the Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys Association.

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

ecox@baltsun.com

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