Washington D.C. was forced to pay over $70 thousand to the Washington Post for attorneys fees related to a public records dispute, Washington Post FOIA director Nate Jones writes. Reporter Jessica Contrera had requested the records of Officer Brett Parson, who was nationally known for his leadership of the D.C. police Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit — now known as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Liaison Unit. She made the request after Parson was charged in February 202 with two counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor. Parson pleaded not guilty, and in March, Florida prosecutors dropped the charges due to “lack of the victim’s cooperation.”
Despite a recent law passed by the D.C. council requiring that “disciplinary records shall not be categorically denied or redacted on the basis that it constitutes an unwarranted invasion of a personal privacy for officers within the Metropolitan Police Department,” an attorney for the D.C. Office of the Attorney General argued in court in August that Parson’s disciplinary records should remain secret. But a judge ruled that the public interest in Parson’s disciplinary records outweighed the private interest, and ordered the document released in 15 days. When they were released, the records showed that Parson had been investigated for allegations including the use of excessive force, inappropriate language — including while in court — missed administrative deadlines, the loss of police ammunition and three “preventable” car accidents. All but one of the allegations were sustained.