WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier is expected to testify Tuesday in a trial stemming from allegations she unfairly discriminated against a high-ranking African-American woman in the department.
Evelyn Primas claims in a lawsuit, which names Lanier and the District of Columbia as defendants, that the police chief informed her she would be demoted two ranks — from Commander to Captain — as part of a department-wide restructuring in September 2007.
As Commander, Primas was responsible for overseeing interactions between the department, courts, U.S. Marshals, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
During the meeting with Lanier, Primas, who joined MPD in 1978, was asked how long she planned to remain on the job, according court documents. She opted to retire rather than accept the demotion.
Lanier hired Captain Marcus Westover, a younger white man, to fill her position at the rank of Inspector, which is a rank higher than Captain.
After learning of Westover’s hiring, Primas delivered a letter expressing discrimination concerns and was subsequently offered the opportunity to remain with MPD at the rank of Inspector in a different department. Primas declined the offer because she felt the demotion was unjustified.
Lanier says she believes Westover was the most qualified candidate to replace Primas and that she realized “at the last minute” that the position would require a higher rank in order to effectively perform the duties of the Director of the Court Liaison Division.
A 2012 court ruling against Primas was reversed in 2013 by the U.S. Court of the Appeals. The court ordered a jury trial be convened to settle the matter.
FOX 5 was first to report Lanier’s expected testimony on Tuesday.
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