William Kenley, a Maryland corrections officer, claims in a lawsuit that he was falsely arrested for assaulting a police officer after he started recording officers using force on his friend. Credit: Christina Davidson/WAMU

When you hear the charge “assaulting a police officer,” you might assume that an officer has been hurt or injured while serving the community. But in Washington, D.C., you might not be able to take so-called APOs at face value.

Reporter Patrick Madden of WAMU found that the charge of assaulting a police officer, which is meant to shield police from danger, also can be used as a tactic against citizens.

Students at the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University and WAMU researched 2,000 cases to see where most APO charges go down in D.C. Check out the map they made to see where these arrests took place. Notice that concentrations occur in the central part of the urban area and in predominantly black neighborhoods in the Southeast.

Nine out of 10 people charged were African American, even though half of the district’s population is black.

DIG DEEPER

Julia B. Chan worked at The Center for Investigative Reporting until June, 2017. Julia B. Chan is a producer and the digital editor for Reveal's national public radio program. She’s the voice of Reveal online and manages the production and curation of digital story assets that are sent to more than 200 stations across the country. Previously, Chan helped The Center for Investigative Reporting launch YouTube’s first investigative news channel, The I Files, and led engagement strategies – online and off – for multimedia projects. She oversaw communications, worked to better connect CIR’s work with a bigger audience and developed creative content and collaborations to garner conversation and impact.

Before joining CIR, Chan worked as a Web editor and reporter at the San Francisco Examiner. She managed the newspaper’s digital strategy and orchestrated its first foray into social media and online engagement. A rare San Francisco native, she studied broadcasting at San Francisco State University, focusing on audio production and recording. Chan is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.