District of Columbia police have opened an internal affairs investigation into statements made by a police officer who responded to reports that singer Chris Brown had punched a man outside a Washington hotel.
The investigation centers on a disputed conversation between the officer and an unidentified acquaintance of Brown, discrepancies that will likely be important for the authorities to reconcile as the criminal prosecution moves forward. The apparent inconsistencies are described in charging documents laying out the basis for the assault case against Brown and his bodyguard.
The acquaintance reported being told by the officer that the alleged victim said Brown never hit him, according to the police records. The officer was then interviewed by detectives and denied having even spoken with the acquaintance. However, a uniformed Secret Service officer at the scene told detectives that he overheard the conversation with the officer and confirmed the acquaintance's story. The accuser also denied having told anyone that Brown never struck him, the documents state.
An Associated Press reporter who had previously asked the police department about that conversation was contacted this week by an internal affairs investigator assigned to the probe. The investigator confirmed a review was underway.
"We are aware of the discrepancy among witness statements in the Chris Brown case. This is not uncommon in cases with multiple witnesses involved. We have received no complaint of misconduct on the part of any officer in this matter," Police Chief Cathy Lanier said in a written statement.
In an interview Thursday, Lanier added, "Nobody has accused anybody of lying. One person says one thing, one person says something else. Nobody has made an allegation that an officer is lying" or covering anything up.
The female police officer was not named in charging documents, and police officials did not identify her. The head of the police officers' union said he had not been made aware of the investigation. Danny Onorato, Brown's lawyer, declined to comment, as did a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office, which is handling the prosecution.
Brown was charged with assault after a man said Brown and his bodyguard, Christopher Hollosy, had punched him after he tried to get into a picture the singer was taking with two other people. Brown's lawyer said he is innocent of the misdemeanor charge and revealed in court last week that he had rejected a plea offer. He is due back in court Feb. 20.
Hollosy has rejected the same deal that Brown was offered, his lawyer has said.
At the time Brown was charged in Washington, the Grammy winner was on probation in California for a 2009 attack on singer Rihanna, his then-girlfriend. As a result of the new charge, a judge in December revoked Brown's probation in California, but the ruling didn't change a requirement that Brown complete rehab and community service including roadside cleanup and graffiti removal.