The Baton Rouge Police Department’s maximum allotment, or the highest number of officers it should have to protect and serve the Capital City, is 698. In the past few years however, that number has only decreased given the career’s low pay and high-risk job status, but locally, numerous sources confided and said it may be related to the current administration of the BRPD.
“Policies of the police department are not being enforced upon employees in an equal and impartial manner,” said Baton Rouge lawyer Cliff Ivey.
Ivey is representing Sgt. John Dauthier, a 20 veteran of the force. Due to the department’s own policies, officers are not allowed to speak to the media on the department’s behalf, which is why Ivey interviewed.
Plus, the most recent termination of Officer Siya Creel may have been meant to serve as “an example” of what happens if any officers cross the administration and speaks up. Creel eventually did win his job back with full pay. Then, in early June 2021, he resigned with his resignation letter saying part of the reason was BRPD’s “hostile work force conditions.”
“The enforcement of the rules is based upon what type of relationship the bosses have with the working class,” said Ivey. “It’s commonly said that police officers are held to a higher standard and they should be. We don’t dispute that. The administration of this police department should also be held to that higher standard as well and they’re not holding themselves to it.”
Dauthier once served in the internal affairs division at BRPD, even under the current administration of Police Chief Murphy Paul and then internal affairs commander Myron Daniels, who has since been promoted to deputy chief. Ivey said his client saw the beginnings of what he believed to be disparate discipline when certain violations by certain officers were allegedly being slipped under the rug. It’s why Ivey said Dauthier asked to be transferred out of internal affairs wanting no part in that. Now though, the lawyer said the administration isn’t even trying to hide their disparities. They’re blatant, he said, with some officers getting away with things and going after specific officers for speaking up. It’s why he said Dauthier had to get a lawyer.
KIRAN: Do you feel it’s retaliation?
IVEY: John Dauthier is being successful.
Retaliation because when he left internal affairs in 2019, Ivey said weeks later, the department launched what he believed to be its first “disingenuous” investigation into Dauthier. It’s why Ivey said Dauthier notified Chief Paul of possible policy and criminal law violations back in 2019 and asked for an outside agency to investigate.
But in obtained records, the chief’s response to that complaint was “The department does not intend to consult with an outside agency to investigate the allegations of your complaint.”
A records request into the city turned up “No IA file or other interdepartmental correspondence” regarding that complaint, meaning no investigation came from his complaint.
KIRAN: If you get a written complaint on an officer in your force, shouldn’t a police chief want to investigate that?
GOYENECHE: Well, they’re supposed to.
Rafael Goyeneche is with the Metropolitan Crime Commission based in New Orleans. Goyeneche has served as a prosecutor and now serves as a watchdog group.
“The problem you have is what the Sgt. was complaining about was internal affairs and internal affairs was basing their investigations based in part on the subject of the investigation’s relationship with superiors in the department. that could possibly be the chief as well, so who’s going to investigate internal affairs and misconduct is supposed to be investigated by internal affairs. So you would have to ask an outside agency to come in and conduct this investigation, and when you’re conducting an investigation that could potentially involve the chief of police, there’s nobody that works for the Baton Rouge Police Department that could conduct an investigation involving misconduct of the police chief,” said Goyeneche.
Fast forward two years to 2021. That’s why Dauthier went before the Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board asking them to investigate Chief Murphy Paul for allegedly having violated not only the department’s policies, but that he possibly also may have violated the law.
That hearing is public and recorded.
“What I am suggesting is that when I made a complaint for multiple policy violations against members of the internal affairs division, in writing I made that complaint to the chief in pursuant to Louisiana Revised Statute 40:2531, commonly referred to as the Police Officer’s Bill of Rights. He was required by law to initiate an investigation into my allegations whether he likes me or not and he did not do that. He failed his obligation under the law to initiate an investigation. The reason I believe that is because he basically told me he wasn’t going to in his reply to me and a public records request that I made much later after all the deadlines had passed confirmed that no record of any such investigation occurred,” said Dauthier in the public hearing in April 2021.
But Dauthier’s problems didn’t end in 2019 with the internal affairs investigations. In fact, in his own words in the letter for request to the civil service board, Dauthier said he no longer wanted to be in internal affairs alleging “I made the request for transfer out of frustration and disappointment when it became obvious that the new internal affairs commander, Sgt. Myron Daniels, brought a new and blatantly partial doctrine for enforcing policies of the BRPD. After realizing that I could not stop what was occurring, I instead opted to not be part of it and left for a new assignment. My feelings were widely known and, I firmly believe, led to what would soon cause me to be targeted for an administrative investigation myself.”
That brings us to February 2021 where officers working under Dauthier, who is now back on the streets, asked for a supervisor to come out.
“Initially, one of his officers had been dispatched to assist EMS. When she got there, East Baton Rouge EMS had already loaded the patient into the ambulance prepared to transport it. Circumstances indicated to that officer that the patient was critical and may not live so there was a concern on behalf of all that responded that there may be a crime scene involved in the house from where they believe EMS may have taken him,” said Ivey.
Unfortunately, though, Ivey said they were given the wrong address for the man by multiple people. They were told the house is empty and no one else lived there. It was all caught on the officers body cameras.
In the video, Dauthier is seen pulling a woman out of a trailer, which officers believed may be a crime scene they needed to secure. The woman was handcuffed an detained as officers tried to figure out which home the man lived in that may be the crime scene. After listening to the woman and asking a neighbor, Dauthier realizes they were indeed at the wrong home. He’s seen on camera repeatedly apologizing to the woman and explaining why the confusion. He gave her his information, his name and the phone number to internal affairs if she wanted to file a complaint on him.
That citizen did follow through and made a complaint on Dauthier.
In April, Dauthier and Ivey met with internal affairs to give their official statement and respond to all three charges —- body camera violation, failure to submit required forms and conduct unbecoming.
“The policy purpose behind that is so that the appointing authority, in this case, the chief of police, can have a full set of facts before deciding whether to even set it for a pre-disciplinary hearing. The internal affairs investigator shut the recording off immediately after saying that the interview had concluded. We were in the middle of making statements at the time,” said Ivey.
Ivey recorded that meeting suspecting something like what happened may be the case.
Dauthier tried to ask whether another responding officer at the same exact scene was under investigation for allegedly never turning their camera on.
DAUTHIER: Am I the only person under investigation for body camera violation in this matter?
INTERNAL AFFAIRS: You ask that question. I don’t understand.
DAUTHIER: Am I the only person under investigation for not having a camera on during this incident?
INTERNAL AFFAIRS: I’m not at liberty to divulge that information.
When Dauthier tried to ask internal affairs why an officer who works for him got a courtesy call to remind him to turn in a required form but he was never under investigation for it, why was it different when it came to Dauthier, is when the hearing abruptly ended.
IVEY: The officer that works for you, —- he was, he had apparently, he had not submitted a — name of form?
DAUTHIER: Response to resistive behavior (referring to the name of form Ivey was asking about)
IVEY: …And he received a phone call from Detective Beard (in internal affairs) that day about a courtesy call to turn it in?
DAUTHIER: The same day that I was notified I was under investigation, that’s right, four hours earlier.
DAUTHIER: So I’m just making the point that it seems that once again, I’m being treated differently from others.
INTERNAL AFFAIRS: That concludes this interview.
DAUTHIER: No, you can’t conclude the interview. Part of this is me making statements. That’s what I thought, I’m going to work.
IVEY: Orscini, what in the world is going on?
INTERNAL AFFAIRS: Cliff, that dude, me and Jonathan, were cool at one point…
IVEY: I remember…
INTERNAL AFFAIRS: For some odd reason…
IVEY: Y’all took my law test.
INTERNAL AFFAIRS: Right, exactly. Exactly. I was one of the reasons, I vouched for him to come into the office, but he has it out for administration, and since I work for the administration…
IVEY: I know where you work, I know where you work.
INTERNAL AFFAIRS: …And, uh, I don’t want to fall into that, uh like I said, I never had a problem with him until he left out of the office.
IVEY: I don’t ever remember him saying he had a problem with you so I don’t, I mean, this can’t be you.
INTERNAL AFFAIRS: Well, I mean I have to do my job Cliff.
IVEY: I understand.
INTERNAL AFFAIRS: I mean, I have nothing against him.
IVEY: And I believe that.
INTERNAL AFFAIRS: You know, the thing about it is, he’s always rude and, I mean, I understand you know…
IVEY: But can you see how somebody would feel when people who work for him get courtesy calls and one day….
INTERNAL AFFAIRS: I don’t remember calling —-. I’m not saying it didn’t happen, but uh, I mean and that’s like, and you’re an officer, and an attorney, it’s discretion. I mean, like you stop somebody “Hey, I’m going to give you a verbal warning”. Now if I called —, I don’t remember. If I did I did, um but to be honest, he and I didn’t have a relationship like that. He even emailed me and said “Hey, don’t email me on my off time,” so why would I call him?
“I’d asked Sgt. Beard after the interview was over or rather abruptly concluded, what was the true purpose behind this and the answers that were given were quite disturbing. There were references to what types of relationship the investigator had with my client and there were also references to the fact that the investigator felt that he had discretion in terms of how he enforced policy or the administration enforced policy much akin to the discretion a police officer has when to issue someone a traffic ticket as part of a traffic stop,” said Ivey.
“When it comes to traffic tickets, police have some discretion there. When it comes to internal affairs, internal affairs’ responsibility is to investigate and document misconduct. The discretion about how to discipline that misconduct is with the superintendent or the chief,” said Goyeneche.
“The most concerning thing that was said was that because my client was going after administration and that the investigator was a part of that administration was one of the motivating factors apparently behind this current investigation,” said Ivey.
When asked if that says retaliation, Ivey responded, “I don’t know what else it could say.”
“I think those comments by the investigator that were captured on tape, are very damning,” said Goyeneche. “I think it’s pretty obvious that this appears to be retaliation for not playing ball with the chief and in fact embarrassing the chief. You’re supposed to be making decisions based on the rules and the facts and this internal affairs investigator’s comments seem to substantiate Sgt. Dauthier’s claims that this is retaliatory because he has in fact filed a complaint against the chief of police and the investigator is aware of that.”
A few weeks later, Dauthier was notified that his investigation paperwork was ready for pickup. Remember, he was fighting three charges. But to his surprise, the paperwork now included three more alleged violations, class three violations, meaning the most serious and the discipline for a class three violation can be termination. The additional three were: carrying our orders for a warrantless search and arrests as well as use of force.
KIRAN: What do you think these last three charges are for?
IVEY: The likelihood that they plan to terminate my client.
IVEY: Because he, unlike many others, are successfully standing up for themselves against this administration.
KIRAN: What is he saying about this administration?
IVEY: Well, the mere fact that he had to file a public records request and then had to sue to enforce the public records law shows that despite the claim from this administration that they are both transparent and accountable, they are neither. The agenda is not tied to those two things.
Ivey is referring to the pages and pages of a records request on BRPD turned over to Dauthier with just about everything redacted. District Court Judge Trudy White however, said that was against the law and that the city/parish had to correctly redact the documents and turn them over to Dauthier.
Back to the civil service meeting where Dauthier had asked the board to investigate Chief Paul. It’s the meeting where Dauthier alleged that the top cop dropped the ball when he did not investigate his own officers in 2019 and may have violated BRPD policies and criminal law.
After Dauthier spoke at that meeting, Chief Paul asked to speak as well.
“I think two things I would like the board to consider. These are your words Mr. Floyd, these are your words. This has never happened before. I want everybody here to pay attention to that. This has never happened in the history of this board. Why is it happening now? Why is it happening now, and the fact that we are even entertaining this concerns me greatly. Mr. Moruzzi, I receive complaints on you, for something that happened a long time ago, those same rights that apply to you apply to me as the chief of police. Here are the facts.
We received a complaint involving this gentleman, Sgt. Dauthier on 2-22-21 where he violated, according to the complainant, their rights. This came from a citizen and it also came from the sheriff’s department. Those are facts. I wasn’t out there trying to target Sgt. Dauthier and you are going to hear because I just read that report, and shame on him. That came from a pregnant person from this community. He want to open this up and make it like it’s some personal vendetta. That happened after that complaint was filed. Part of our policy, we interviewed him and when we interviewed him, he filed this motion for something that happened in 2019 and claimed whistleblower. So here’s his intent, because I’ve seen it time and time again, and here’s what’s going to happen. I’m going to paint the picture. See there’s a disciplinary hearing that he just talked about that’s going to happen. Okay, and these are the games that they’re playing. So what’s going happen, he’s probably going to get disciplined if the facts come out the way they are, or he may be cleared, we don’t know. But if he’s disciplined, he’s going to come before this same board and say “See, I filed a complaint. I’m going to hide under this whistleblower.” We know what you’re doing and this isn’t the first time, and we’re getting sick and tired of it, and I will not continue to be bullied by this man and the leadership of the Baton Rouge Police Union. I’m fighting back today, today. Today, we will fight back today. I’m tired of it,” said the chief before the civil service board.
“After disclosing those facts to the board as he believed them, turned to my client, wagged his right index finger, pointed it at him and said, “Shame on him.” Now, one, our argument is there has to be some fairness at this pre-disciplinary hearing. The chief is supposed to have an open mind. Clearly as of last month, he does not. Second, how have you not tainted the entire board to whom any appeal would be taken,” said Ivey.
Since then, Ivey said internal affairs sustained, or upheld, all six violations against Dauthier, suspended him for 60 days without pay and demoted him in rank from Sgt. to corporal.
“Based on the chronology that was presented to me, I think there is every appearance that the department is being retaliatory,” said Goyeneche. “I base that conclusion on my review of the body camera footage. I watched the sergeant and the other officers be very professional and courteous to the woman that was handcuffed. That’s why I say it was a mistake of the heart, not the head. I think the officers received some misinformation but acted appropriately and professionally and I do not see the justification for the discipline that was administered to him in this particular case.”
One of the policies allegedly violated, the use of force, which is considered one of the more egregious violations, the department’s own defensive tactics instructor said in Dauthier’s report that the instructor “…advised the physical force used by Sgt. Dauthier was justifiable for the situation at hand.”
“Yet that complaint was sustained. The failure to turn on the body camera initially was sustained even though once he realized he was dealing with somebody, he later turned on his body cam,” said Goyeneche.
Plus, in that same report, it said “N/A” when it came to witnesses. According to the body camera footage alone, there were at least two other police officers on scene, not to mention the female detained.
“That’s another head scratcher because the witnesses are police officers, and if they’re not available on a particular day, they’re available on another day and internal affairs, you know since they work for the Baton Rouge Police Department, internal affairs can and should have access to everyone that works for the department. Officers are required to make administrative statements involving allegations of misconduct and to say they were not available is incorrect. They may have been unavailable on a particular day at a particular time but that doesn’t mean that because they weren’t available on that date and time, they should not have been interviewed. Everyone that was there needed to be interviewed in connection with this, particularly when it rises to the level that you’re going to demote and suspend a 20 plus year veteran of the police department,” said Goyeneche.
Along with all the collected documents on Dauthier’s case, Goyeneche glanced at other files provided by various sources, cases of officers when it comes to several department policies, but, many of these cases have never been heard of in the public.
Without mentioning names, examples like an officer allegedly violating the same policy repeatedly, being written up more than once by their captain and then, no record of the complaint by the superior. According to documents, when Myron Daniels with internal affairs finally addressed it, he cleared the officer of any wrongdoing.
In 2019, an officer was caught lying by their own body camera according to documents, when they responded to a home on Stone Gate Dr. for a back door alarm. When the exact same call came out twice, questions were raised why the responding officer didn’t handle it the first time. That officer said there was a lock so they couldn’t get to it the first time and the second time, a neighbor who had a key unlocked it for the officer. The homeowner however said there is no lock on any gate and no neighbor has any keys. Sources said then Internal Affairs Commander Myron Daniels rejected the case and the officer’s district commander did a conference worksheet. That basically means there’s no record of any wrongdoing in the officer’s file.
“If you can’t trust internal affairs to document accurately the misconduct of officers, then any and every discipline, and by that matter the converse of that, any discipline that wasn’t rendered involving a complaint calls into justice whether justice was really achieved. So this really cuts to the core of the integrity of the Baton Rouge Police Department if internal affairs is basing their investigations on a double standard, on favoritism and/or retaliating against people that are at odds with the administration,” said Goyeneche.
In 2018, there was another case caught on the officer’s body camera and written up by the officer’s supervisor. The allegations, according to the report, said the officer’s video showed them twice “to grab suspect and push him against the wall and grab him by the throat.” It went on to say the officer lost their temper “to the point of yelling profane words no less than eight times” and “threaten additional force to include use of a taser.”
That officer was suspended for some time.
Then there’s the case of an officer who was assigned to Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s security detail. Taking a close look at that officer’s timesheets and matching it to Mayor Broome’s calendar, there seemed to be several inconsistencies.
For example, on Feb. 12, 2018, the officer marked working a “mayor event” from midnight to 4am, but her calendar was completely empty that day.
It was the same for April 22, 2018, overtime for a 15-hour day for a mayor event that started at 7am till 10 that night. Her calendar, however, empty again for that Sunday.
June 1, 2018, the same officer worked 13 hours overtime for a mayor event from 4am till 5pm but seems the mayor wasn’t even in town that day. Her calendar showed her “out of town” the entire day.
The list of examples for that particular officer go on and on. The officer was investigated and faced four violations. According to documents, when it came to conduct unbecoming of an officer, “Chief Paul has determined the complaint to be not sustained”….meaning there wasn’t enough evidence for that specific violation. As for the three other violations, falsification of documents, truthfulness and carrying out orders, all the most serious of violations, “Chief Paul has determined that you are exonerated of the allegations made in this matter,”….meaning the allegations are completely false and the officer is cleared of any wrongdoing.
“If internal affairs in any law enforcement agency is compromised, if their integrity is in any questioned, it undermines everything within that department and also adversely affects the public’s trust in law enforcement,” said Goyeneche.
When asked even though it’s internal affairs on the investigations, does everything go back to the chief, Goyeneche replied, “Everything stops with him.”
So is there merit to what Dauthier is alleging that there truly is disparate discipline within BRPD with Chief Paul and members of his administration in the know?
GOYENECHE: I’m a former prosecutor. i don’t want to seem morgue but where there’s smoke, there’s fire and i think there’s enough information here that demands that the allegations be investigated in greater detail so i think the ball is in civil service’s court right now
KIRAN: Is there a violation of BRPD policies and criminal law that you see?
GOYENECHE: There are criminal applications to some of this and it might mean at some point, if you can document actionable misconduct by the internal affairs division, civil service and/or the entity that is conducting the investigation could potentially ask that an independent criminal investigation be launched.
Chief Paul, Deputy Chief Myron Daniels, Internal Affairs Investigator Orscini Beard and Mayor Broome were all asked for interviews and/or comments for this report. No one responded.