By jason brown
September 27, 2012
LAFAYETTE — Two Lafayette police officers involved in a pending federal lawsuit are appealing their recent terminations to the Lafayette Fire and Police Civil Service Board, claiming they were fired “without good faith for cause” and in violation of state law governing the rights of law enforcement officers while under investigation.
Both Cpl. Scott Poiencot and Lt. Gregory Cormier were terminated Sept. 12.
The two officers are among a group of current and former officers involved in a federal lawsuit filed in June that alleges widespread police corruption, racial discrimination, payroll fraud, manipulation of crime statistics, and harassment.
Police Chief Jim Craft, named as a defendant in the lawsuit, has denied the allegations, referring to them as the product of “disgruntled employees.”
The plaintiffs’ allegations first surfaced May 22 when five officers filed a temporary restraining order in state 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 state judge later dissolved the temporary restraining order, prompting the officers to take the matter to federal court.
Cormier’s termination letter, which was included in his appeal, cites both his involvement in the leaked confidential document and in the creation of the website Real Cops v. Craft, which was created by the plaintiffs’ attorneys, with the plaintiffs’ consent, in connection with the lawsuit and contained secretly recorded conversations of some plaintiffs and top-ranking police officials.
On Monday, U.S. District Magistrate Judge Patrick Hanna ordered the plaintiffs to take down the website on the grounds it “offends the professionalism and dignity of the court system.”
Cormier’s termination letter states that Cormier admitted to having copied an unspecified number of internal affairs documents related to administrative or shift level investigations, and of having released a confidential document to Poiencot on one occasion. The document allegedly was turned over to a local attorney and used in a separate officer’s pending termination appeal before the Civil Service Board.
Cormier denied any involvement in the leak during his pre-disciplinary hearing, according to his termination letter.
Poiencot’s appeal includes three letters from the department outlining the allegations against him, including his involvement in the website and for his alleged insubordination for refusing to take a polygraph exam as part of an internal affairs investigation.
A second letter accuses Poiencot of having given a recording device to another officer, who then used the device to record another officer in an “unauthorized investigation.” The recording was then used in an unsuccessful attempt to obtain the temporary restraining order in 15th Judicial District Court.
The third letter accuses Poiencot, who sits on the Civil Service Board, of having been in possession of the leaked internal affairs document.
The city is seeking to remove Poiencot from the Civil Service Board in a pending lawsuit in state District Court.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys, Stephen Spring and Chris Alexander, were also scheduled to file an amended lawsuit Thursday. The amended complaint was not available through online federal court records as of Thursday afternoon.
Both parties are scheduled to appear in court Tuesday to argue the city’s pending motion to dismiss the case.