The Town of Vienna said it has investigated a pair of claims made online in late August about police harassment and said the events weren’t quite as sensational as they sounded on social media.
The town said in a press release that no formal complaint was submitted, but the claims were still investigated internally by the Vienna Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Unit.
“The claims posted on social media have been determined to be unfounded and, in large measure, inaccurate and untrue,” the police said.
The Town of Vienna provided a full review of the claims investigated:
According to the posted statement, the 20-year-old complainant said that he was detained without cause while walking home. He then claimed that he was transported in the back of a Vienna police vehicle to his home where a second officer also responded. There the two officers allegedly attempted to “pressure” the complainant’s mother into making false accusations against her son related to a broken wall in an attempt “to use that as a way to arrest me.”
In reality, and confirmed by the Fairfax County Public Safety Communications Department, the complainant called 911 on that date seeking police help related to a domestic incident involving his mother. In the recorded phone call, the complainant says that his mother is infringing on his constitutional rights. Vienna police did respond to this domestic disagreement related to room cleanliness and a hole in the wall that the complainant allegedly caused. Police mediated between the two parties and then left the residence. A review of in-car video shows that the complainant was not transported in the back of a Vienna police vehicle for any reason on that date.
As part of the investigation of alleged improper police conduct, Vienna detectives spoke with the mother briefly before her son ended the conversation and asked police to leave the home. When asked by investigators, she said that there was “no problem” with how officers responded to the June 25 incident. There were no issues, she said, and she was unclear why officers were following up on the incident. Investigators attempted to interview the complainant, but he declined to speak with officers.
After an extensive investigation, the Town of Vienna finds these allegations unfounded and the investigation is closed.
The second claim deals with a woman who said claimed she was interrogated by Vienna Police at Yeonas Park while eating lunch with her two adult children in her vehicle:
After an investigation, the Vienna Police Department finds the officer in this incident to be in compliance with normal police procedures, and no improper police conduct occurred.
In-car video shows that the Vienna officer’s conduct not only was appropriate but his interactions courteous and kind. The officer ran the vehicle’s tags because it was parked across three parking spaces at the Vienna Little League fields, which is posted as private property. When he did so, he learned that there was an outstanding Missouri warrant for the vehicle’s owner, who is the woman who posted the complaint; however, Missouri declined to request enforcement of the warrant due to the expense of transportation and nature of the criminal charge involved. The officer asked the woman to step out of her car so that he could discuss with her the warrant, including possible ways to address the situation, without disclosing it to her children. She was informed that she was free to use the adjoining Town of Vienna Park, which is open to the public.
The Vienna Police Department has attempted to contact the woman who posted the complaint; she has not responded to requests to be interviewed or to file a formal complaint.
Despite finding the two claims of harassment to be unfounded, the Town of Vienna said in the press release that if there are any complaints about a police officer’s behavior, they should be reported to the police department by calling 703-255-6366 or sending an email to [email protected]. Civil rights claims can also be filed with the Department of Justice.
“The Vienna Police Department takes all allegations of misconduct very seriously, and officers are expected to interact with all individuals, regardless of skin color, appropriately, respectfully, and, whenever possible, courteously,” the town said.
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