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Cop under investigation for lying about witnessing murder

Thursday - 9/1/2011, 3:00pm  ET

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(WTOP)

Ask the Chief

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier with WTOP's Mark Segraves

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WASHINGTON - A D.C. police officer has been removed from duty and is being investigated for lying to police about allegedly witnessing a murder, Police Chief Cathy Lanier tells WTOP.

As first reported by Fox5 news, an officer from the Second District first told investigators she had not witnessed the shooting that took place on Aug. 21.

After further questioning, the 12-year veteran of the police department changed her story. The officer is in a relationship with the man accused of the crime, sources tell WTOP.

"If the investigation confirms that that is exactly what happened, then that officer is facing criminal charges," Lanier said on WTOP's "Ask the Chief" program.

According to court documents, Ricardo Mitchell, 32, shot and killed Wyatt Robinson in the 3800 block of Minnesota Avenue NE around 7 p.m.

Robinson was shot multiple times and found dead when police officers arrived. Nine shell casings were found at the scene.

Witnesses told police that Mitchell and Robinson got into an argument before the shooting. After running inside his house to get his gun, Mitchell ran after Robinson and hit him on the head before shooting him several times, according to court documents.

Police are reviewing surveillance footage from the area.

Mitchell is facing a charge of first degree murder while armed. He has been ordered held without bond.

Lanier says the officer also faces criminal charges for lying to investigators.

Police are also investigating an off-duty police officer who is in jail for shooting at members of the transgender community while standing on the hood of their car. The case is not being investigated as a hate crime, Lanier said.

Police also continue to investigate a case involving a group of lesbians who say they were assaulted by two men while walking in Columbia Heights. Police came under fire for not taking a report on the attack after being called to the scene, and for releasing the attackers. Police have since arrested both suspects.

Some tension remains between the D.C. police and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community over handling of the department's Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU).

"Communication has been the biggest problem," Lanier said. "I've got a lot of officers out there that are trained. Those officers are the ones that have to be the ones making that constant communication with the community."

The department has come under pressure this year with 23 officers arrested to date. Last year, 17 officers were arrested.

Lanier said she does not know what the conviction rate is for those officers, but the department remains vigilant.

"We are very aggressive in weeding out dirty cops," she said.

She noted that the department conducts undercover stings with Internal Affairs and has campaigns on DUI and domestic violence prevention.

"This is a constant pressure from management, from internal affairs, to stay on this," she said. "As long as we're proactively looking for misconduct ... That says that we're doing everything we can to make sure you have a good police force."

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)