Councilwoman Files Formal Complaint

Councilwoman Files Formal Complaint

Alexandria City Councilwoman Joyce Woodson filed a complaint about the police officer who conducted an investigation that led to the arrest of Woodson’s son in a highly publicized “egging” incident.

“On July 13, 2004, I filed a formal complaint against one police officer because the officer made a false allegation against me, not because of the officer’s handling of my son’s arrest,” Woodson said in a faxed statement dated Sept. 14. “The city of Alexandria has treated this complaint in exactly the same manner as any other complaint would be handled. It is now a closed matter.”

Woodson said her July 13 letter also expressed concerns about leaks revealing her son’s involvement in the egging incident before he had been arrested. “The investigation at that point should have been confidential with all effort to protect the privacy of the individual under investigation,” Woodson said.

Woodson acknowledges she wrote the letter on her official letterhead, and said she was informed by “city officials” that there were no “prohibitions against using official letterhead for this purpose.”

She offered to clear up the issue of using letterhead: “I would be glad to reimburse the public for the single sheet of paper used.”

A police union official asserts that the problem of using official letterhead is more complex than the cost of the paper.

“Filing a complaint on City Council letterhead was an abuse of power and an attempt to intimidate the officer,” said officer Sean McGowan, a police union board member and a candidate for union president.

“Internal affairs has conducted a thorough investigation into the matter and determined that the officer did nothing wrong.”

POLICE UNION and media requests for a copy of Woodson’s letter, sent on July 13 on City Council letterhead to city manager Philip Sunderland have been denied. “We filed a Freedom of Information Act request for a copy of the letter and that request was denied,” McGowan said.

Detective Adrienne Miller, about whom Woodson filed the complaint, has also been denied a copy of the complaint letter. “I saw it and was permitted to read it but was not given a copy,” Miller said.

In response to earlier inquiries from a Gazette reporter, Woodson appeared to deny that she had filed a complaint. “Neither my husband nor I filed a complaint that certain police officers mishandled information relating to our son’s recent arrest. Sorry to disappoint you,” Woodson wrote in an e-mail response on Sept. 7.

She repeated her denial in another e-mail sent a few days later on Sept. 10.

“Again, my husband and I did not file the complaint you referenced. Whoever told you that we did has given you erroneous information.”

MILLER, THE POLICE OFFICER in question, expressed her own concern. “The manner in which Ms. Woodson filed this complaint, on official city letterhead as a member of City Council, was at best, inappropriate,” she said. “In addition, her subsequent denial of filing the complaint speaks volumes about the validity of the complaint, her motives for filing it and, ultimately, her character.”

Miller has been a member of the Alexandria Police Department for 11 years. She is a trained hostage negotiator and was awarded a Medal of Valor for disarming a woman who was wielding a knife near small children on a city playground. She was assigned to investigate an egging incident at the home of James Boissonault, an outspoken critic of the Alexandria School Board. That investigation led to a guilty plea from James Luby, the son of School Board member Melissa Luby, and a finding of guilt by a judge in Woodson’s son’s case.

Boissonault became aware of a complaint involving Miller when he was called as part of the internal affairs investigation. “I was told that the Woodsons had filed a complaint involving Detective Miller,” Boissonault said. “I was very concerned when I was told this. Throughout the investigation, Detective Miller was completely professional. She refused to discuss the case with me even during the trial.

“None of this would have been an issue if Jimmy Luby and Max Woodson hadn’t broken the law in the first place,” he said.