Officers probed in Clark dispute

Commander, lieutenant face possible misconduct, neglect of duty charges

Officers under investigation in Clark case

August 07, 2004|By Ryan Davis | Ryan Davis,SUN STAFF

Two high-ranking officers involved in the initial investigation of Police Commissioner Kevin P. Clark's domestic dispute May 15 have been brought under internal investigation for their handling of the incident.

Maj. Regis Phelan, commander of the Northern District, in which Clark lives, was notified this week of the investigation, his attorney said yesterday. Lt. Elfago Moye of the Northern District has also been notified of a similar investigation into his actions.

They face possible charges of misconduct and neglect of duty. Phelan's attorney said the major has not been provided details about specific actions that are being investigated. He said it is the department's right to conduct internal investigations.

"As long as there's something to it, as long as this isn't just retaliation, I'm fine with it," lawyer Michael Davey said.

But the president of the police union said the probe appears to be retaliatory.

"This department is expending more energy investigating our upper echelon for nonsensical reasons, as opposed to placing that energy into true crime fighting," said Dan Fickus, president of the city's Fraternal Order of Police.

Moye, a 24-year veteran, and Phelan, a 19-year veteran, declined to comment because the department has banned them from discussing the cases. They can continue to work while under investigation, though Phelan is on medical leave, his attorney said.

Police spokesman Matt Jablow also declined to comment.

The investigations stem from the May 15 dispute between Clark and his fiancee, Blanca Gerena. Police reports gave this account of the incident:

Shortly before 4 a.m., Gerena emerged from the couple's North Baltimore condominium and asked the police officers stationed outside whether she could use a telephone. Uniformed officers are regularly posted outside Clark's home for security.

The officers asked her if she was all right.

Both officers reported hearing Gerena say "He assault me" in broken English. Neither reported seeing any sign of injury.

Several high-ranking officers responded, and Gerena left the scene with a friend, Leonor Trujillo.

Inquiry into events

Phelan wrote a report stating that Trujillo later called him on his cellular phone to say that Gerena had suffered neck and back injuries, and that Clark had assaulted her previously. In an interview with The Sun later, Trujillo denied that she had made such statements.

Although The Sun asked in May for a copy of Phelan's cellular phone bill, which is a public record, the department has yet to respond to the request.

Police reports do not make clear Moye's involvement in responding to the incident.

An investigation by Howard County police found that any possible charges against Clark were "unsubstantiated."

At the time that report was completed, Baltimore police said they would look into the department's handling of the case.

Initial police reports on the incident did not identify Clark by name. Instead, he was referred to as "a male known to officers and who will remain anonymous and known as `the male' for the purpose of this report."

There is no report indicating that Baltimore police took the standard steps involved in a domestic violence investigation, such as photographing Clark's condominium and interviewing witnesses.

Past scrutiny

Moye and Phelan have faced other scrutiny since Clark took over the department in February last year.

The commissioner demoted Moye from major to lieutenant.

In January, Clark found Phelan guilty of misconduct stemming from a confrontation with a chief during an October meeting.

Phelan was docked seven vacation days and received a letter of reprimand.

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