Officer punished for misconduct

Police major was accused of trying to quash warrant

January 31, 2004|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

A top police commander was docked 15 days of vacation and was issued a severe letter of reprimand yesterday after internal investigators sustained a charge of misconduct against him for his actions in trying to quash and then serve an arrest warrant for his pastor's nephew, police officials said yesterday.

Maj. Stephen Davis of the Northeastern District -- one of at least six top commanders under internal investigation on an assortment of allegations in the past month -- could not be reached for comment.

Police Commissioner Kevin P. Clark issued the disciplinary action against Davis yesterday after weighing facts discovered during a three-month internal inquiry into the commander's actions, police spokesman Matt Jablow said.

Police officials said Davis approached a prosecutor and a judge in November and tried to have a domestic violence warrant recalled for the son of his pastor. The warrant was not quashed, and Davis orchestrated the surrender of the suspect, Kenneth L. Barney Jr., 32, of the 3000 block of Druid Park Lake Drive, police officials said.

Jablow would not discuss details of the investigation, except to say that Davis "went to see a judge and prosecutor about having [the warrant] quashed."

"He should not have pulled the warrant," Jablow said.

A spokeswoman for the state's attorney's office said yesterday that her office has declined to prosecute the case and turned it over to the Police Department for internal investigation.

Barney's girlfriend, Kantria L. Curry, 26, filed domestic assault charges against Barney on Nov. 3 after an incident at her West Baltimore house, according to the woman's statements in court documents.

Barney's father, the Rev. Kenneth L. Barney Sr. of the New Antioch Baptist Church of Randallstown, has said he then turned for help to Davis, a member of the church.

Curry reacted bitterly yesterday to Davis' punishment.

"I don't think it's enough," Curry said. "The police are supposed to protect and serve us. I am just appalled by it. ... I'm devastated by it. I don't think a reprimand is severe enough. He abused his authority."

In an unrelated internal investigation, police officials disclosed yesterday that they have ended another inquiry into a top officer. Clark found that Maj. Regis Phelan of the Northern District was guilty of misconduct stemming from an incident at an October crime-trend meeting. Phelan lost seven vacation days and received a letter of reprimand, the officials said.

Phelan and Anthony J. Romano, chief of the department's organized crime division, had a contentious exchange during the ComStat meeting.

Several sources who attended the meeting described the confrontation as subdued, and were surprised that Romano would request an internal investigation.

Phelan declined to comment yesterday.

There are at least four other internal inquiries into top-level commanders. Those investigations -- most into relatively minor offenses -- were criticized by union officials and City Council members as a distraction.

Commanders are not afforded the same legal protections as officers. They serve at the pleasure of the police commissioner and can be disciplined or fired without cause.

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