Park Police chief accused of unlawful searches years ago

Park Police chief accused of unlawful searches years ago
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The head of the U.S. Park Police was accused of multiple illegal body cavity searches between 1999 and 2004, The New York Times reported Thursday

There were reportedly at least four investigations into acting Park Police Chief Gregory Monahan, whose law enforcement agency was one of several that controversially used chemical agents to disperse protesters in front of the White House this month. 

National Park Service spokeswoman Alexandra Picavet told The Hill in a statement that the cases referenced in the Times article were investigated and that the accusations were deemed unfounded. 

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"This means that the allegations were false or not factual, or he was exonerated, meaning the incident occurred but was lawful and proper," Picavet said. 

She added that a review of internal affairs records found no "sustained dispositions" that led to disciplinary or adverse action against Monahan.

The Times reported that the four probes were mentioned in a letter by Kenneth L. Wainstein, who was serving as the U.S. attorney in Washington. The letter reportedly said that in one case, federal lawyers decided not to prosecute him and that he was cleared by the Park Police in two others, while one investigation was still pending. 

In a fifth case, Monahan was accused of searching a man for drugs by reaching into the man’s buttocks, according to the newspaper. In that case, Monahan reportedly said he searched the man, whom he had pulled over for a cracked windshield, because he saw the man “clinching his buttocks” and had found a package of crack cocaine after patting the man down. 

Judge Gerald B. Lee said in his decision that the search was not constitutional and that he didn’t believe Monahan’s testimony, the Times reported. 

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However, Picavet told The Hill that accusations of "testimonial misconduct" were unfounded.

The Park Police has faced scrutiny in recent weeks for the manner in which protesters were cleared from Lafayette Square in front of the White House on June 1. Shortly after the incident, President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoe Arpaio loses bid for his old position as sheriff Trump brushes off view that Russia denigrating Biden: 'Nobody's been tougher on Russia than I have' Trump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet MORE walked through the park to visit a nearby church, leading critics to believe the protesters were cleared for a photo-op. 

Monahan has said that the protesters were cleared after they threw bricks, frozen water bottles and “caustic” liquids at officers. However, Attorney General William BarrBill BarrGOP lawmaker calls for Justice Dept. to probe international court Barr pulls over to thank pro-police rally in Virginia Trump: Yates either lying or grossly incompetent MORE described to The Associated Press a meeting about moving protesters away from the area in advance. 

The acting chief also initially denied that tear gas was used; however, a park police spokesperson later said this characterization was a “mistake.”