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Hearing starts Wednesday on interim chief's termination appeal

Lafayette Police Department
Posted at 5:00 PM, Aug 09, 2022

On the eve of his termination appeal, KATC Investigates has taken a look at the documents filed by former Interim Police Chief Wayne Griffin and the city that is defending his firing.

Griffin was named Interim Chief of the Lafayette Police Department on October 7, 2021, by Mayor-President Josh Guillory following the firing of Chief Thomas Glover. Two weeks later, on October 21, Griffin was placed on administrative leave after LCG launched an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment at the department.

Following the conclusion of the investigation into the allegations, Griffin was returned to the rank of Sergeant but remained on administrative leave. Shortly after that, in January 2022, he was fired. He has appealed his termination, alleging that LCG says he was fired for lying but he was never given a pre-disciplinary hearing on that allegation. LCG says he was properly notified and the hearing did take place.

The documents produced by both Griffin and LCG include a number of salacious text messages involving Griffin and an employee who had worked with him for several years. That person, who KATC has decided not to identify, has been on medical leave, according to the documents. She has asked the board to protect her identity and to hear her testimony behind closed doors.

When Griffin became chief he transferred that person back to patrol; he says he had planned to leave her where she was, but transferred her because Mayor President Josh Guillory told him that he and CAO Cydra Wingerter "had serious issues with" the employee. Those issues involved "her previously making videos" on TikTok, some of which "were provocative in nature" and showed the employee wearing her Lafayette Police uniform, the documents state. For those reasons, and because of manpower shortages, Griffin alleges, he had to transfer the person back to patrol.

The first day she had to work a patrol shift is when she told someone about the text conversations, the documents state. She arrived at a homicide scene to relieve another officer who had been guarding the perimeter, and told her supervisor about the texts, the documents state. The employee said she didn't intend for that conversation to be between an officer and her superior, but between two friends.

And, although she has maintained that she did not want a complaint filed, that supervisor did report what he was told to human resources, and that was reported to the administration, and the sexual harassment complaint was filed by Wingerter, the records show.

The female employee's supervisor went on medical leave shortly thereafter and submitted doctor's notes that opined being questioned would exacerbate his medical condition, so other than the initial written statement there is no other information from him in the documents. Months after the investigation was closed, in April, he was badly injured in a car crash on the Atchafalaya Basin. After he was released from the hospital he was booked with DWI, and he has since retired from the department.

When LCG investigators began working on the complaint, they spoke with the female employee and her attorney, former Lafayette Police Chief Toby Aguillard, who also is a lawyer. He is the one who gave those investigators copies of the text messages that passed between his client and Griffin. The topics of the texts were sexual in nature, and included a photo of the female employee squatting in her underwear which she sent to Griffin, the documents show.

Griffin initially denied participating in the text conversations, and he and his attorney both suggested that his phone could have been spoofed. Forensic investigators who looked at the exchange and at the female employee's phone say the messages were real.

In the large stack of records we received, there are some documents that don't appear to match up.

For instance, the LCG investigation report lists the allegations against Griffin and whether or not those allegations were "sustained" or "not sustained" by the findings of that investigation.

  • The allegation that he violated LCG rules regarding "conduct unbecoming" and lying was sustained, the documents show.
  • The allegation of sexual harassment under LCG rules was not sustained, the documents show.
  • The allegation of sexual harassment and lying under LPD rules was sustained as to truthtfulness, the documents state.
  • And the allegation of lying under LPD rules during an investigation was sustained, the documents state.

But in the letter terminating Griffin, Interim Chief Monte Potier wrote that the investigation found he had violated a number of LPD rules and regulations, including those against sexual harassment.

The list of violations included the "conduct unbecoming" responsibility, which states employees "shall not commit any act in an official or private capacity that would bring reproach, discredit or embarassment to their profession, the Department or which could constitute conduct unbecoming."

Several violations were of procedures or policies that require employees to be truthful in any statements they make, and that employees have a responsibility to cooperate in investigations and to answer all questions completely and truthfully. There was a violation of prohibitions against abusive, obscene, profane or threatening language; harassment of employees or other persons, including sexual harassment; conduct unbecoming. The letter also listed violations of requirements that managers and employee ensure a harassment-free workplace, and included details about what constituted sexual harassment.

In a document filed last week by LCG, the government states that Griffin was not terminated for sexual harassment. It refers to the letter written by Potier and states that, even though Griffin's behavior violated rules against harassment, "he was not terminated based on a finding that he had committed sexual harassment."

Instead, because Griffin denied the text conversations and suggested they were falsified, "it was concluded that Wayne Griffin deliberately misled the investigators when he denied that he had sent the messages originating from his device and further attempted to prove that position during his second interrogation as part of this investigation."

LCG is in the midst of hiring a new police chief; after what was described as a national search, nine people applied and five were found to be qualified to take the chief's exam. All are from Acadiana, and three are current members of the Lafayette Police Department. Of the remaining two, one is a retired state trooper and the other is a retired FBI agent.

The Lafayette Police Department has had five chiefs of police since January 2020.

When Josh Guillory took office, he requested that Chief Toby Aguillard resign, reportedly because of a poor relationship with Sheriff Mark Garber. Lt. Scott Morgan was then appointed interim chief.

The Guillory administration conducted a search and hired Chief Thomas Glover from the Dallas Police Department, then fired him 10 months later. Glover also appealed his termination to the board, and is appealing their decision in district court.

After Glover was fired, Sgt. Wayne Griffin was appointed interim chief, but two weeks later was placed on administrative leave pending the sexual harassment investigation, and was terminated. It's that termination that he's appealing to the board tomorrow.

The current interim chief, Major Monte Potier, was appointed in October 2021. He's the one who terminated Griffin.