WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court has overturned a jury verdict in favor of five District of Columbia police officers who sued the department in a retaliation case.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said in its opinion Friday that a lawyer for the officers made inappropriate comments to the jury during closing arguments.

The three-judge panel threw out the $900,000 verdict. The court said the trial judge did not go far enough in instructing the jury to disregard the lawyer’s comments, which invited jurors to put themselves in the officers’ shoes.

The officers sued in 2008 after they were forced to reapply for their jobs in specialized units following a reorganization by the commander of their district. The officers also said they had endured racial discrimination.

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