The Real News Network

The Real News Network, the NAACP Prince George’s County Branch, and the National Action Network have filed a joint motion asking a judge to unseal a report that contains details of discrimination and racial bias within the police department of Prince George’s County, Maryland.

The motion, filed this week in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, seeks the release of an unredacted version of the so-called Graham Report, an independent investigation that found the department failed to address racial bias against officers of color or act on complaints of racist behavior by individuals employed by the agency.

The report was commissioned as part of an ongoing lawsuit filed by a group of African-American and Latino officers earlier this year. The suit alleges the department routinely brushed aside claims of discrimination against officers of color and ignored complaints of racist behavior by officers towards residents. It also alleged Black and Latino officers were routinely passed over for promotion.

However, key details like the names of the officers accused of wrongdoing were shielded from public disclosure after lawyers representing the department asked a judge to seal substantial parts of the report. Former Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski resigned shortly after the redacted report was released.

In the motion filed this week, plaintiffs argue the redacted information is critical to prompting needed reforms inside the department and to holding specific officers accountable for their actions.   

“Much of the Graham Report’s salient information—such as allegations of racial discrimination and harassment within the PGPD and the identities of the public officials perpetrating such discrimination and harassment—is hidden from public view,” the motion states.

“The Real News believes strongly in and will for fight for the public’s right to know,” said TRNN’s Executive Director John Duda. “Particularly when it comes to policing, which is under increased scrutiny for good reason, we believe full transparency is absolutely essential.”  

The Prince George’s County Police Department is no stranger to controversy.

Earlier this year officer Michael Owen Jr. shot and killed William Green, who was handcuffed and sitting in the front of Owen’s patrol car. Owen was charged with second-degree murder and is currently awaiting trial.

Prince George’s County entered into a consent decree with the Department of Justice in 2004. The DOJ’s investigation concluded the police department employed unconstitutional and racist tactics that were hidden from public scrutiny—A fact cited in the new motion as a critical justification for making the report available to the public.

“The documents sought by Plaintiffs thus fall squarely within the types of documents which must be publicly available if we are to have a functional and accountable system of local government,” the motion states.

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Stephen Janis

Host & Producer
Stephen Janis is an award winning investigative reporter turned documentary filmmaker. His first feature film, The Friendliest Town was distributed by Gravitas Ventures and won an award of distinction from The Impact Doc Film Festival, and a humanitarian award from The Indie Film Fest. He is the co-host and creator of The Police Accountability Report on The Real News Network, which has received more than 10,000,000 views on YouTube. His work as a reporter has been featured on a variety of national shows including the Netflix reboot of Unsolved Mysteries, Dead of Night on Investigation Discovery Channel, Relentless on NBC, and Sins of the City on TV One.

He has co-authored several books on policing, corruption, and the root causes of violence including Why Do We Kill: The Pathology of Murder in Baltimore and You Can’t Stop Murder: Truths about Policing in Baltimore and Beyond. He is also the co-host of the true crime podcast Land of the Unsolved. Prior to joining The Real News, Janis won three Capital Emmys for investigative series working as an investigative producer for WBFF. Follow him on Twitter.