NewsLafayette Parish


LCG loses public records case against two newspapers

Lafayette Parish Courthouse
Posted at 3:16 PM, May 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 19:24:29-04

Lafayette Consolidated Government lost a public records suit brought by two local newspapers.

The Daily Advertiser and The Current teamed up and took LCG to court in January when the government refused to produce documents related to the investigation that removed interim Police Chief Wayne Griffin from that post, and later resulted in his firing. The court ordered LCG to turn over documents, with protected information redacted, to the newspapers last week.

Lying and harassment were among the stated reasons for interim Lafayette Police Chief Wayne Griffin’s termination, according to human resources documents released in a public records suit. Redactions approved by a district judge leave open the question of exactly why he was fired, The Current reports.

According to The Current, Griffin’s attorney, Allyson Melancon, was notified of his termination in a letter dated Jan. 20.

The two media outlets prevailed in poking through a broad reliance on police officers’ privacy rights invoked by LCG and Griffin himself to block access to his termination letter and investigative file. This is a key legal achievement in the case brought by the two news organizations, The Current reports.

“We’ve cracked that. It’s no longer a blanket [denial] that just gets thrown over everything. I think that’s huge,” says attorney Gary McGoffin, who represented both The Advertiser and The Current in the public records suit.

Because of the suit, information began to come to light even before the judge’s decision to force LCG to turn over the documents, The Current reports.

In court filings, Griffin’s attorney wrote that he wasn’t fired for sexual harassment. LCG officials didn’t object to that statement at the time, and media outlets reported it.

But the termination letter appears to indicate otherwise. Just released in the lawsuit, the letter clearly states that “the complaint was sustained” and specifically mentions policies governing harassment (3.1) and sexual harassment (3.2). The letter, from interim Chief Monte Potier, goes on to say Griffin’s actions violated the PD’s general orders and LPD policies that prohibit “knowingly [making] false or untrue statements” and “conduct unbecoming of an employee … in dealing with fellow employees, supervisors and superiors and/or members of the public.”

Griffin himself claims he’s unsure why he was fired. His attorney tells The Current that the letter perplexed her and her client and she sought clarification from Potier earlier this year.

“I was told by Chief Potier that he specifically did not sustain sexual harassment,” Melancon says. Only “harassment” was sustained, she says Potier told her. Potier did not immediately respond to an email sent to the PD’s public information officer regarding that conversation with Melancon.

To read The Current's whole story about the documents they obtained, click here.

Griffin was one of five police chiefs the Lafayette Police Department has had 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 appointed interim chief.

The Guillory administration then hired Chief Thomas Glover from the Dallas Police Department, and fired him 10 months later. Griffin was appointed interim chief, but two weeks later was placed on administrative leave pending a sexual harassment investigation. He was later fired.

The current interim chief, Major Monte Potier, was appointed in October 2021.

So far, five people have applied to replace him, although it appears that only three meet the requirements to be hired. To read about that, click here.