Posted: Jun 8, 2012 5:35 PM by Erin Steuber
Updated: Jun 13, 2012 6:54 PM
As you recall an original case was filed on May 22 putting everything in motion.The nine officers originally filed their case in district court. They brought forward audio tapes, video documentation and claims of injustice by the Chief and a police Major. At a hearing May 29 a judge voted in favor of the city and the officers are not backing down. This week they filed a case in federal court, still alleging corruption, racial discrimination and physical threats.
Although five current Lafayette police officers are among the group suing the police chief, only one of them is being counter-sued by the chief himself. Officer Scott Poiencot is not only a police officer, he is also a member of the Fire and Police Civil Service Board. That means he had to take an oath to faithfully and impartially administer the Civil Service law. In a suit filed by LCG and the Lafayette Police Department they claim Poiencot isn't doing that. They claim he has shown favoritism and committed gross misconduct. Allegations include secretly recording conversations with fellow police officers since 2006, and engaging in the creation of the website "Real Cops V Craft". They are asking that Poiencot is immediately removed from his position.
Lafayette's Civil Service Board Attorney Candice Hattan says "This is the first time in my research, or experience, a request to remove an elected uniformed member of the Fire and Police Civil Service Board has been made."
I also spoke to the State Examiner Melinda Livingston who shares a similar belief. She says this case could be "breaking new ground." Poiencot's Attorney Stephen Spring says the effort to remove Scott is retalitory.
"The soul basis of this corruption is because he recorded. Interestingly,the testimony in the restraining order case, the recordings were made not to conduct an investigation, but to protect themselves because of the sad state of the police department under the Craft administration," said Spring.
Spring has filed a cease and desist order in response to this latest lawsuit. In addition to asking the council to order the chief to stop all investigations against the officers involved, he's also asking that a new, alleged order by the chief be declared void. That order prohibits the use of recording devices against other officers without Craft's approval. This comes after recordings like this were leaked to the press. 'You gotta put up, or shut up. They're gonna tell them that I retaliated against him and that I violated policy. He's not gonna go before a board and make those accusations and then just walk away from it," said Major Jackie Alfred in a recorded conversation on April 14.
Spring says this latest case is further proof of why they started this suit in the first place.
"It just exemplifies the methodology and the lengths which the administration will go to keep people silent, and keep secret from the public what's really going on," said Spring.
LPD and LCG's Attorney Michael Corry says "As a sitting member of the Lafayette Fire and Police Civil Service Board, Scott Poiencot has an obligation to act as an unbiased judge over civil service matters. We intend to show in this lawsuit that his actions amount to a blatant conflict of interest requiring his removal."