By jason brown
October 27, 2012
LAFAYETTE — A federal magistrate judge will recommend a variety of changes be made to a federal lawsuit filed by former and current Lafayette police officers against the city, including the recommended dismissal of some of the plaintiffs and defendants.
During a hearing Tuesday, U.S. District Magistrate Judge Patrick Hanna did not disclose when he would present his recommendations to U.S. District Judge Richard Haik, but he did tell both sides what to expect when the recommendations are issued.
Haik will ultimately decide whether to accept or reject the recommendations.
The lawsuit, which involves 15 plaintiffs and 12 defendants, alleges widespread police corruption within the Lafayette Police Department, disparate discipline policies and altered crime statistics, among other claims. The lawsuit was first filed in June and was amended Sept. 25.
The two-part hearing Tuesday involved the city’s motion to remove certain allegations from the complaint and a separate motion to dismiss the case for failure to state a claim.
Hanna partially granted the city’s first motion and took the second under advisement. He did tell both sides that he would likely recommend that some of the plaintiffs’ claims be maintained.
Among the passages Hanna removed from the complaint were some of the original lawsuit’s more-sensational claims that the department “was fundamentally rotten to the core,” and that Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft assaulted a homeless one-legged man while the man was handcuffed at Festival International de Louisiane in April 2010.
“It’s like a big bowl of spaghetti thrown against the wall. Some of it’s going to stick and some of it’s going to fall,” Hanna said, referring to some of the allegations within the lawsuit.
The city has argued in previous court filings that the claims are nothing more than “inter-office gossip amongst disgruntled employees.”
The allegations first surfaced in May, when the officers filed for a temporary restraining order in 15th Judicial District Court seeking to stop the city from moving forward on an internal affairs investigation into a leaked confidential document related to disciplinary action against an officer.
When their claim was dismissed in state court, the plaintiffs filed a federal lawsuit seeking damages. They have also lodged several related complaints with the Lafayette Fire and Police Civil Service Board.