Cops level charges of corruption E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

Five Lafayette, Louisiana police officers are suing their superiors and asking for temporary restraining orders. The plaintiffs claim the LPD has a culture of corruption that has led to physical threats and racial discrimination. The lawsuit, filed in the 15th Judicial District Court, alleges the police department had a de facto policy of not creating written policies to avoid possible liabilies.

LPD officers Kane Marceaux, Gregory Cormier, Scott Poiencot, Norbert Myers and Gabe Thompson are each represented by Baton Rouge attorney Stephen Spring, who filed the suit against Lafayette Consolidated Government, LCG's Chief Administrative Officer Dee Stanley, LPD Chief Jim Craft and LPD Patrol Division Commander Maj. George "Jackie" Alfred.

Spring compares his clients to Frank Serpico, the NYPD whistleblower who testified against police corruption and was played by Al Pacino in a 1973 film.

Because his clients took a stand and went to court, Spring says the officers now have "genuine fears" of being shot, physically assaulted or battered, in addition to facing "unlawful " disciplinary proceedings."

The case appears to have started with an officer not identified in the suit who was placed on administrative leave at the beginning of this year. Superiors removed that officer from administrative leave to help staff the police force for Mardi Gras according to the lawsuit. But the officer was placed back on administrative leave shortly thereafter.

The officer then appealed his return to administrative leave.

Then his attorney, as part of the appeal, filed a document from LPD's internal affairs division. That made the document a public record against the wishes of LCG and LPD superiors, according to the lawsuit.

The same day the officer's attorney filed the appeal, LPD launched an internal investigation to identify who gave the officer's lawyer the internal affairs document. The brass thinks the document was stolen, according to the lawsuit.

Then the rest of the plaintiff officers received notice they were under internal investigation in relation to the internal affairs document.

According to the suit, the Police Officer's Bill of Rights requires that internal investigations to begin no more than 14 days after a complaint is filed. Also, all internal investigations are to be completed in 60 days.

Under those guidelines, the lawsuit claims, the investigation should have concluded by April 1.

Spring described the investigation into his clients "an apparent witch hunt." He claims the LPD uses such investigations "as a means of retaliation, reprisal and retribution for misconceived affronts."

The lawsuit accuses Craft of worrying that black officers could take his job as chief, prompting Craft and Alfred to seek "retribution for perceived wrongs."

During a phone interview with reporters with the Advertiser, Spring said he has "hours" of secret audio recordings that bolster his clients' claims.

Cpl. Paul Mouton, an LPD spokesman, said he could not comment on pending litigation.

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