Court records show Markiewicz filed a complaint in D.C. Superior Court on Oct. 28, 2015 that accuses the city of failing to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request he filed last year to obtain the email and phone records within the legal deadline of 25 business days.
“More than 25 days, excluding weekends and holidays, has elapsed and the District of Columbia has failed to either make the requested public record accessible or notify the person making such request of its determination not to make the requested public record or any part thereof accessible and the reasons therefore,” the complaint says.
The complaint doesn’t say why Markiewicz filed the FOIA request and doesn’t disclose the nature of the email or cell phone records he’s seeking.
But his FOIA complaint was filed at a time when police sources said Markiewicz was considering taking legal action against the department for alleged retaliation against him following an internal police harassment complaint he filed in August 2014 against a captain that Markiewicz reportedly says targeted him for anti-gay harassment.
According to police sources, Markiewicz’s complaint — filed with the department’s Internal Affairs Division — accused then-Capt. Edward Delgado of repeatedly referring to him as “Justine” in person and in email messages. The complaint reportedly claimed Delgado also referred to Markiewicz as “Justine” in email messages to other police officials, including Lanier and Deputy Chief Diane Groomes.
At the time the harassment complaint was filed, former police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump told the Blade the department considers such complaints confidential personnel matters and doesn’t disclose the outcome of the internal investigation of the complaint.
The Washington Blade discovered Markiewicz’s Superior Court FOIA lawsuit through a search of public court records after D.C. LGBT Community Center Director David Mariner earlier this month published a GoFundMe appeal on Markiewicz’s behalf.
“Currently Justin is in a costly legal battle with the Police Department,” Mariner states on the GoFundMe site. “Ultimately he hopes that at the end of the battle MPD will take complaints made by LGBT officers seriously and protect them from future retaliation and harassment,” Mariner says on the site.
Markiewicz declined to comment when contacted by the Blade, saying a police department policy prohibits officers from talking to the media.
Capt. Sean Conboy, a police spokesperson, did not respond to a Blade request for comment. Mariner couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Court records show that D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, who represents the city in lawsuits, filed a motion in February calling on the court to dismiss the FOIA case on grounds that Markiewicz’s attorney missed the deadline for officially serving legal papers notifying the city about the suit.
According to Racine’s motion, a process server for Markiewicz’s attorney delivered the legal papers on Jan. 4, 2015, seven days past the Dec. 28 deadline. In a brief responding to the motion to dismiss, attorney Matthew August LeFande, who’s representing Markiewicz, disputes Racine’s claim, saying the papers were filed within the deadline.
Superior Court Judge John Campbell has yet to rule on the motion. A status hearing on the case is scheduled for April 8.
As of March 15, the GoFundMe site for Markiewicz says it has raised $5,200, which exceeds its initial goal of raising $5,000 to help cover Markiewicz’s legal expenses.
“In 2014 Justin was forced to file a complaint against the captain who managed the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit for repeated homophobic remarks,” Mariner states on the fundraising website. “The police department failed to respond correctly and immediately after he made his complaint Justin began to be retaliated against,” Mariner says.
“He was denied overtime, subjected to unfair discipline, and suspended,” Mariner states. “MPD failed to properly investigate the homophobic remarks Justin was subjected to and as many as eight months after the complaint the police department was continuing to refer to Justin as the same homophobic name on official police documents,” according to Mariner.