Lawsuit alleges departmental misconduct
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LAFAYETTE — A day after a group of Lafayette police officers filed a federal lawsuit alleging cover-ups, favoritism and other problems in the police department, the city-parish administration sought to remove one of those officers from the Lafayette Fire and Police Civil Service Board.
Attorneys for city-parish government on Wednesday filed a lawsuit seeking to remove Scott Poiencot from the civil service board.
The administration argues that some of the issues raised in the federal lawsuit may ultimately come before the board, which hears appeals of disciplinary action within the police department. .
Poiencot, who was elected by police department employees last year to serve on the board, is one of nine current and former officers who filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday alleging cover-ups, favoritism and disproportionate employee discipline within the department.
Poiencot was also involved with other officers in an unsuccessful legal attempt last month to block a departmental investigation into allegations of a leaked confidential documents.
The administration has alleged misconduct by Poiencot that includes secretly recording conversations with other officers since 2006 using a recorder disguised as a pen. It also has cited his connections to the website “www.realcopsvcraft.com.
The website, which appeared to be still under development Thursday shows a picture of Lafayette Police Jim Craft and a quote from the federal lawsuit filed earlier this week by the officers:
“Something is rotten in the City of Lafayette’s Police Department.”
Poiencot’s attorneys, Stephen Spring and Chris Alexander, argue in a written statement that the petition to remove their client from the civil service board is more retaliation by City-Parish President Joey Durel’s administration against officers who speak out about problems in the police department.
“This new lawsuit illustrates the lengths to which the Durel administration will go to violate our police officer clients’ right to keep the citizens of Lafayette and public from knowing the sad state of affairs of their police department,” the attorneys said in the statement.
The attorneys also said that the administration on Thursday ordered an internal affairs investigation against Poiencot and Officer Greg Cormier, another plaintiff in the federal lawsuit against the administration.
The officers are being accused of “unauthorized investigations” for their role in revealing alleged improprieties in the department, according to Springer and Alexander.
Craft on Thursday declined to comment on whether the officers are the subject of an inquiry.
The police chief features prominently in the officers’ federal lawsuit, which alleges a cover-up of the chief allegedly choking a homeless man who had cursed at Craft after being arrested at Festival International de Louisiane in April 2010.
The lawsuit alleged that five police officers witnessed the incident, but no formal report was ever made.
The police department and the city-parish legal department have declined comment on the litigation.