After a very tense meeting, the Youngsville City Council has voted unanimously to hire an HR law firm to investigate the city's police chief.
The council voted to ask the city's attorney to find three HR law firms that can do the investigation, which would cover every day since the first time Police Chief Rickey Boudreaux was sworn in until Thursday.
"This is a job, it's not a priviledge," said council member Simone Champagne of her seat on the public body. "We are here tonight to do our job, and make no mistake. We will do our job."
You can watch a recording of the meeting here.
The vote comes after Council Member Kayla Reaux announced she would resign. All this action comes on the heels of an investigative article posted by The Advocate this past weekend. The story was about an incident that happened last fall, when Reaux crashed into a parked vehicle around midnight, after leaving Boudreaux's house. To read that story, click here.
After public comment at Thursday's meeting, the chief made a speech in which he read what he said were requests from council members to fix tickets, and accused them of breaking state public meetings laws by meeting with the mayor in private earlier this week. He called council members liars and said they couldn't be trusted. And, he told council members "good luck" if they want him to resign. His comments prompted one council member to accuse the chief of attempting public intimidation.
But the chief also pledged to cooperate with any investigation, and he said he didn't try to protect the council member from any consequences.
"I understand it could have been handled better. But I did not go there that night to put any influence," the chief said, after he announced his cell phone number for anyone who wanted it. "A friend called for help, and I responded to that call for help."
A former Youngsville city attorney questioned the ability of the council or mayor to investigate the chief under the state law that set up the city's structure. Current City Attorney Wade Trahan said it's his opinion the council and mayor can do it, and said that Broussard conducted a similar investigation - and is governed by the same law.
There were a lot of public comments at the meeting, from some people who said they were friends of Reauxs and didn't think she should be judged. Others said they felt she shouldn't receive special treatment.
Two city residents, both black men, said they did not believe they would have been treated the same if they had crashed into a parked car in the middle of the night.
"The thing that really got to me was, i used to be in law enforcement and it really aggravated me. Coming from law enforcement and being black, at that time of the night? She hit a parked vehicle. She could have taken a life, and nobody is really even caring too much about that and the fact that she called the chief of police, and he's going to sing that damn song and he's going to stop the investigation because it's officer discretion," said Marcello Joiner. "Just the disrespect to the ones who actually do the job, ones that actually care. i just don't get it. I don't think anybody's really taking this seriously enough. You put this badge on, and you're supposed to represent something. This excuse, I've got a head injury, you just came from his house. What's going on? It's a joke to me, because i wouldn't have got officer discretion. I would be on the ground with cuffs. It's really upsetting."
One woman, her voice trembling with emotion, said she came to know Reaux as a person when they were members of the same Mardi Gras krewe. She said Reaux has done much good for the city over the years, and that shouldn't be forgotten.
"One mistake shouldn't overshadow all that someone has accomplished as a person," she said. "I watched the video, i saw disrespectful things. An apology was owed, and it was given."