Judge overturns BRPD chief’s ruling, clears retired officer’s suspension & demotion

BATON ROUGE — A local judge has overturned former Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul’s ruling against retired police officer John Dauthier.

On March 8, 19th JDC Judge Richard “Chip” Moore ruled that disciplinary action taken against BRPD Sgt. John Dauthier in 2021 by the department is deemed an “absolute nullity,” resulting in the clearing of his record regarding the incident.

Chief Paul & John Dauthier

UWK first reported on Dauthier’s involvement in a February 2021 altercation, which arose from a misunderstanding at a crime scene, pitting the officer against the then-chief.

Now, nearly three years later, the resolution of the case appears imminent with Friday’s decision.

The incident, captured on body camera footage, showed then-Sgt. Dauthier responding to a “man down” call to assist the officers he supervised at that time. During the ensuing investigation, as the officers sought to locate the precise spot where the man was found, tensions escalated when they mistakenly confronted an uncooperative resident due to erroneous address information.

Subsequently, Dauthier and his colleagues had to remove the woman from her home and handcuff her before realizing their mistake, prompted by a neighbor. Dauthier was recorded on his body camera apologizing to the woman, providing his identification details and the phone number to file an internal affairs complaint if she chose, and explaining the misunderstanding. The woman later filed a complaint against him.

Dauthier’s story detailing what happened three years ago

Following a comprehensive UWK investigation, Dauthier was demoted from sergeant to corporal and faced a 60-day unpaid suspension. Despite a lengthy appeal hearing before the Baton Rouge Municipal Fire & Police Civil Service Board, Dauthier’s rank was restored to sergeant and his suspension cut down from 60 days to 39 days. He then appealed to the 19th JDC.

In his appeal, Dauthier contested the findings, alleging a lack of evidence and procedural irregularities, which Judge Moore appeared to endorse in his ruling.

Judge Moore declared the civil service board’s decision as an “absolute nullity,” ordering reimbursement of the remaining suspension days to Dauthier. Consequently, the city will have to compensate Dauthier for lost salary and accrued benefits during the suspension period.

“Last week’s ruling was a repudiation of the prior administration’s practices, and it questioned the motives behind the way a key witness was told not to appear at a hearing, by the department’s attorney. The judge also determined that the IA Investigator, Officer Orscini Beard, violated a basic law related to investigating a police officer,” Dauthier said when reached for comment.

This case is the second case Dauthier has appealed and won, the first being decided last May. In that case, the department’s issuance of a “letter of caution” to Dauthier and finding that he had shirked his duties, was also reversed in full.

His attorney, Cliff Ivey, said “For the second time, and for the same reason, Sgt. Dauthier has prevailed against the proverbial gang that just can’t shoot straight.”

Ivey added, “This is another example of government being held to account in court and forced to live by the same laws imposed on citizens. Plus, it’s misallocation of manpower and resources in the investigation and prosecution of yet another case against Sgt. John Dauthier, now overturned.”

Dauthier revealed his ongoing legal battles with BRPD, citing a third case initiated against him post-retirement in 2022.

“After I retired, I learned that yet another case was investigated against me and determined to be sustained. The allegations are ridiculous and untrue, but here I am having to start this appeal process all over again.” said Dauthier.

UWK reported on Chief Paul’s request for additional funding for his legal disputes, highlighting the tax dollars expended and the council’s subsequent approvals for independent lawyers. Dauthier’s case was one of the battles Chief Paul took on with his legal funds.

“This was nothing more than a personal vendetta waged against me by Deputy Chief Myron Daniels. He was the one who kept this investigation despite the evidence, and then testified that he wasn’t even involved in it,” said Dauthier.

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