Allegation of conduct unbecoming an officer sustained
An internal investigation into a run-in between State Police Capt. Kevin Devall and an immigration lawyer on a Washington Parish hunting lease has sustained two allegations against Devall, including conduct unbecoming an officer.
But Devall, a Baton Rouge-based commander over criminal investigations in several parishes, was cleared of another claim and will not face disciplinary action in the case, authorities said Monday.
“To me the matter is over and closed,” State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said. “I believe the appropriate action was taken.”
The investigation stemmed from a complaint filed by Metairie lawyer Michael W. Gahagan, who claimed Devall and his brother, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Page Devall, assaulted and intimidated him on Dec. 21 after he parked too close to their deer stand at a hunting club near Bogalusa.
Gahagan said the two referred to their law enforcement roles repeatedly during the altercation and threatened to throw him in jail. He said Kevin Devall claimed he “makes the laws in Louisiana,” while Page Devall allegedly said, “I kick in doors for a living.”
Authorities in Washington Parish declined to pursue criminal charges, citing a lack of corroborating evidence. But Gahagan lodged complaints against the Devalls with their respective law enforcement agencies.
Terry Davis, spokesman for the DEA’s New Orleans field office, said the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility was “involved,” but said he could not comment on the status of Gahagan’s complaint against Page Devall.
The State Police inquiry sustained an allegation against Kevin Devall described as “conduct unbecoming an officer” as well as a separate one categorized as “courtesy,” according to a letter Gahagan received from Maj. Catherine Flinchum.
“Sustained” means a claim was “supported by sufficient evidence,” the letter says.
A third allegation referred to as “conformance to laws” was determined to be “unfounded,” or not factual, according to the letter.
Gahagan said he was disappointed by the results, adding he used to have great respect for peace officers.
“I have learned from this experience that the Louisiana State Police does not care about protecting the citizens of the state of Louisiana from a fellow officer who believes that he ‘makes the law in Louisiana’ and then threatens others while screaming over and over again that he is a State Police officer,” Gahagan wrote in an email.
He continued, “My advice to anyone who is confronted and threatened by Mr. Devall or his DEA agent brother, Page Devall, is to legally protect yourself from their abuse and use deadly force against them if they threaten to harm you.”
State Police, who administered a polygraph test to Gahagan several weeks ago, said they conducted a thorough investigation. Edmonson said there was “no indication” Kevin Devall had identified himself as a state trooper during the altercation, as Gahagan has claimed.
“This was an off-duty state trooper who was not acting in his capacity as a state trooper,” Edmonson said. “It was a personal matter between two individuals.”
State Police denied a public records request filed by The Advocate on Monday seeking records related to the internal investigation.
Michele Giroir, an attorney for State Police, said the records are protected from release because Kevin Devall did not receive any disciplinary action, which the Louisiana State Police Commission defines as any dismissals, suspensions without pay, reductions in pay, involuntary demotions and written reprimands.
According to Gahagan, the dispute began after he left his vehicle on the side of the road about 50 to 100 yards from the Devalls’ deer stand. As Gahagan headed toward the gate to exit the property, he said the Devalls formed a roadblock with their pickup and trailer and were “lying in wait” for him.
Gahagan has said he asked the Devalls to move their vehicle, and that they threatened “to beat the hell out of me” because of where he had parked. He said in an affidavit that the brothers “were within 2-3 feet of me and would not let me get away from them” as he walked backward down the road.
Gahagan reached for his handgun in his back waistband, he said, and warned the officers he was armed. At some point, Gahagan said, he was ordered to disarm and get into an all-terrain vehicle with Kevin Devall, who allegedly drove him through the woods to show him where he could park.
“If these two men were not police officers,” Gahagan said in the affidavit, “I would have defended myself and shot and killed them in order to prevent a beating and escape the attack and illegal detention.”
Authorities have said they found it unusual Gahagan waited two days to file his complaint instead of calling 911 as soon as he could.