A federal criminal indictment against a Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer alleges he illegally shared sensitive information with the former leader of the far right group the Proud Boys.
Lt. Shane Lamond was arrested on Friday, charged with one count of obstruction of justice and three counts of making false statements to investigators. The grand jury indictment charges stem from his communications with Enrique Tarrio, the former leader of the Proud Boys, and other members of the white supremacist organization, both after a pro-Trump rally in December 2020, when Tarrio stole and burned a “Black Lives Matter” banner, as well as following the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol building.
Tarrio and other members of the Proud Boys were recently convicted of engaging in seditious conspiracy relating to their roles in the Capitol attack.
According to NBC News, before being put on leave due to the department learning of his communications with Tarrio, Lamond reportedly supervised the intelligence branch of MPD, allowing him to have firsthand knowledge of several ongoing investigations, including those involving the Proud Boys.
Lamond and Tarrio had been in communication with each other since at least July 2019. Lamond readily shared what he knew about certain actions Tarrio was under investigation for, the indictment shows.
The two shared “at least 500…cloud-based messages,” the indictment says, including 145 messages on Telegram, an app that allows users to delete messages once they’ve been sent and read.
In one communication, which came after Tarrio burned the “Black Lives Matter” banner, Lamond told him that he had advised other MPD officers that the Proud Boys group wasn’t “a racist thing,” and suggested that their actions were no different from antifa protesters engaging in the burning of a U.S. flag. Such actions are protected by First Amendment speech rights, whereas Tarrio’s action, the stealing and desecrating of property from a Black church, was viewed by many to be a hate crime.
Although convicted for the burning of the banner, Tarrio ultimately did not face any hate crime charges for his actions.
Lamond also shared sensitive information with Tarrio about investigations into the group’s involvement in the January 6 Capitol attack.
Lamond kept Tarrio informed, for example, about whether specific members of the Proud Boys were subjects of inquiry in the days immediately after the violent breach of the building, which took place during the congressional certification of the 2020 presidential election. Responding specifically about a single member of the group, whom Tarrio worried was being sought after by investigators, Lamond said, “Nope, not on our list.”
Lamond also indicated, in the days after the attack on the Capitol, that he was loyal to the Proud Boys, even if he couldn’t say so publicly.
“Of course I can’t say it officially, but personally I support you all and don’t want to see your group’s name or reputation dragged through the mud,” he said in a message to them on January 8, 2021.
Michael Fanone, a former D.C. police officer who was injured during the January 6 attack, and who is frequently lauded for his actions on that day, expressed dismay with Lamond, regarding his alleged actions cited in the indictment.
“This wasn’t just ineptitude and poor decision-making. There was a level of betrayal,” Fanone said.
Lamond’s willingness — and clearly, his desire — to interact with members of a known white supremacist group is part of a disturbing trend, which has existed for decades upon decades, of officers throughout the country espousing similar disturbing viewpoints. In 2020, the Brennan Center for Justice released a report detailing just how common it is for officers in police stations across the U.S. to have ties with explicitly white supremacist groups and far right militias.
Not only are police departments saturated with officers expressing such opinions, whether publicly or in private, but departments are doing very little to address the issue, too.
“While it is widely acknowledged that racist officers subsist within police departments around the country, federal, state, and local governments are doing far too little to proactively identify them, report their behavior to prosecutors who might unwittingly rely on their testimony in criminal cases, or protect the diverse communities they are sworn to serve,” wrote former FBI special agent Michael German in the Brennan Center report.
Police reforms, however, including diversifying police departments, as some have advocated doing in order to address racist biases in policing, won’t make things better, freelance journalist Reina Sultan wrote in an op-ed for Truthout in 2021.
“The only way to stop police violence is to abolish the police,” Sultan wrote. “Once we acknowledge that truth, then we can see that no reform will change what police are and what they were created to be: protectors of a white supremacist state, of racial capitalism and of private property.”