LAFAYETTE — The parties involved in a contentious federal lawsuit filed by a group of former and current Lafayette police officers against the Police Department have been placed under a gag order until a scheduled court hearing Friday, according to recent court filings.
The gag order came to light Tuesday during a Lafayette Fire and Police Civil Service hearing when attorney Michael Corry, who is representing Lafayette Consolidated Government, informed members of the Civil Service Board that he could not discuss several items on Tuesday’s agenda since they concerned matters in the pending lawsuit.
Corry referred to an order signed Sept. 5 by U.S. District Magistrate Judge Patrick J. Hanna, which prohibits both parties and their attorneys from discussing allegations within the lawsuit or related to the lawsuit with members of the media, through websites or on social media.
The parties are scheduled to appear in federal court Friday for an evidentiary hearing, according to court filings.
Nine current and former officers filed the federal lawsuit in June, alleging widespread police corruption, racial discrimination, payroll fraud, the manipulation of crime statistics and harassment within the department. Plaintiffs allege that retaliations and reprisals for violating the department’s unwritten “code of silence” include threats, punitive transfers to night duty or to the northside of Lafayette, attempted set-ups and repossession of newly issued weapons.
During a news conference in June, Police Chief Jim Craft denied the allegations, referring to them as the product of “disgruntled employees” seeking to dishonor the department and its officers. Craft said “time, patience and the judicial system” will prove the allegations “false and inaccurate.”
The allegations first surfaced May 22 when five officers filed a temporary restraining order in state District Court seeking to stop the department from conducting an internal affairs investigation into a leaked confidential document. The officers argued they were unfairly being targeted in the investigation.
A judge later dissolved the temporary restraining order, prompting the officers to take the matter to federal court.
Plaintiffs in the case are Kane Marceaux, Regina Briscoe, Greg Cormier, Aleeta M. Harding, Uletom Hewitt, Norbert Meyers, Scott Poiencot and Novey Stelly.
The defendants are the Lafayette Police Department, Lafayette Consolidated Government, City-Parish President Joey Durel, City-Parish Administrative Officer Dee Stanley, Craft and Maj. George Jackie Alfred.
The three items in question Tuesday involved discussion of items involving Stelly, Marceaux and Hewitt, all of whom have filed complaints with the Civil Service Board.
The board voted Tuesday to table the items until the gag order is removed.
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