BRPD officer fired for interviewing with Kiran, wins payout from city

Siya Creel has dropped all his ongoing state & federal court cases in exchange for a $90,000 settlement with the East Baton Rouge City-Parish.

Creel interviewed with Unfiltered with Kiran in July 2020 regarding billboards that the Baton Rouge Police Union had paid for and put up to alert citizens of the increasing crime in the city. He spoke in his role as the vice president of the union, something past union leaders have done for decades, interviewing with the media.

Not even two weeks after the interview, BRPD launched an internal affairs investigation into Creel for allegedly violating three policies: conduct unbecoming of an officer, unauthorized public statements and carrying out orders for social media.  

However, the department ended up firing Creel for an email he sent to his personal address from his work email address in December 2020, right as Creel was in the middle of fighting cancer.

“There never was a true policy violation. It simply came down to Chief Murphy Paul upset that I dare speak out about the truth that crime was on the increase and paint him in a bad picture,” said Creel. “But historically, unions and police chiefs have butted heads over subjects. None that I know have been fired for interviewing with the media. Specifically though, I was fired for interviewing with Kiran.”

The department claimed Creel needed prior authorization from the chief to interview with the media. Never before has a union leader needed permission to interview because the union is a separate entity from the police department. Then they claimed he presented himself as a police officer by wearing uniform pants, his badge and gun. Creel wore a Disney polo shirt with bicycle uniformed pants and by their own policy, even when off-duty, officers are required to carry their gun and badge as long as they are within city limits, which Creel was at the time of his interview. Plus, in the past, union leaders have done interviews with full uniforms and their badge and guns on and never has any internal affairs investigation popped up.

Then there was the social media violation because the interview was posted to YouTube, but he didn’t post it so how did he violate the policy?

All three violations were sustained and Creel was fired over that one interview.

He appealed his termination before the civil service board, a hearing that went well into the early morning hours of the next day. At that hearing, the word “Kiran” was used 41 times and the word “YouTube” used 30 times but Raines and Hamilton defended the chief that Creel violated policy and that’s why he was fired, not because he interviewed with Kiran.

In the end, the Municipal Fire & Civil Service Board unanimously decided Creel was wrongfully terminated and he was given his job back. But Creel knew he would always be on the administration’s radar so he went ahead and left the department on his own to focus on his cancer treatment, himself and his family.

Over two years later, the matter has been resolved with Creel accepting a $90,000 settlement from the city-parish.

“It was time to focus on my family and myself, including my medical condition and my mental health. This is what was best for me and my family,” said Creel.

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