Entertainment & Arts

Charlie Sheen police escort sues bosses over demotion

Charlie Sheen
Image caption Charlie Sheen's police escort attracted attention after the actor wrote about it on Twitter

A US police captain, who was demoted after acting as an escort to actor Charlie Sheen, is taking legal action against his department.

Hilton Burton claims he was punished for telling Washington DC council that police escorts were common practice for celebrities in the city.

Washington DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier said the escort broke police protocol.

She said escorts were usually reserved for government officials and dignitaries.

Mr Burton has now filed a multi-million dollar legal action against the department, after being demoted two ranks from commander to captain.

"To me, it's all retaliatory because the chief did not like what I said before the city council," he said.

However Ms Lanier claims her decision was not related to Mr Burton's remarks but his performance.

Mr Burton acted as an escort for Sheen when he arrived in the city for a comedy show in April last year, collecting him from Dulles International Airport.

Their journey to a concert hall attracted attention when the actor posted about it on Twitter with a photo of flashing emergency lights and a speedometer that appeared to be registering about 80 mph.

He wrote: "In car with Police escort in front and rear! Driving like someone's about to deliver a baby! Cop car lights #Spinning!"

Casual approach

Ms Lanier said at the time that the escort had not been given proper approval and broke rules as emergency lights were used in a non-emergency situation.

One of Sheen's representatives had contacted police to request transport as the actor was running late from Los Angeles for his performance.

Sheen was in the city for a comedy show based on his firing from hit US sitcom Two and a Half Men, which followed a string of public rants about the show's producers.

Image caption Sheen had been running late for his performance in Washington DC

After two off-duty officers drove Sheen from the airport to the venue, the event's promoter reimbursed the city for eight hours of overtime, at a cost of $445 (£284).

According to police records Bill Gates and Jay-Z are among the other celebrities to have received police escorts there in the last few years.

An inspector general's report concluded that the officers did not break department rules as there were no clear guidelines and said that escorts for non-dignitaries were routinely provided.

The report criticised the department for the casual manner in which they handled such matters.

Mr Burton was originally transferred out of the special operations division, which he had been leading, to the department's medical services branch, where he claims he had "no real duties".

He is now involved in internal affairs investigations for the fire department.

Mr Burton is seeking at least $6 million (£3.8m) in damages and to be reinstated to his prior position.

He claims the police department "has demonstrated extreme, outrageous, and intolerable conduct that is beyond all bounds of decency".

Mr Burton had previously filed discrimination complaints against the department and had previously sued Ms Lanier, accusing her of wrongfully demoting him.

His lawyer said it would be difficult for the department to prove he was demoted because of his performance as his superiors did not raise any problems before the Sheen escort issue.

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