BR detective agrees to settle suit against city-parish

A homicide detective who claims his colleagues in the Baton Rouge Police Department wrongfully arrested him on prescription drug charges in 2010 has agreed to settle his federal defamation lawsuit against the city-parish.

Detective John C. Dauthier would receive $45,000 under terms of the settlement, which remains subject to Metro Council approval, said his attorney, Jill Craft.

Craft declined further comment on the case, and Dauthier also would not comment Monday. Parish Attorney Mary Roper did not return messages seeking comment.

A well-known investigator who works in the department’s cold case unit, Dauthier found himself on the opposite side of the interrogation table in November 2010 as investigators accused him of fraudulently obtaining the painkiller Tramadol online.

Police claimed the detective had obtained the pills from five out-of-state pharmacies that were not licensed to dispense drugs in Louisiana.

Dauthier was booked on felony counts of possession of a legend drug without a prescription and obtaining legend drugs by misrepresentation or fraud.

District Attorney Hillar Moore III said he recused himself from the case, but did not think Dauthier committed a crime based on what he knew about the allegations.

“He tried to do things properly,” Moore said, “and the benefit goes to him just like any other defendant.”

The state Attorney General’s Office declined to pursue charges, saying there was no evidence of criminal activity.

Dauthier was suspended 28 days without pay by then-interim Chief Charles Mondrick following his arrest. When Dewayne White became police chief, he rescinded that disciplinary action, citing the “weakness of the case.”

Dauthier filed suit in federal court in April 2011, claiming that the Police Department published false statements about him being addicted to the painkiller and lying on an online questionnaire. Craft has said that even after returning to work, Dauthier was followed by the stigma of his arrest.

“Because of the published statements and circumstances, Mr. Dauthier continues to be questioned, even when testifying in murder trials” about whether he is addicted or committed any crimes, Craft wrote in court filings.

Craft explained in court records that Dauthier, an 11-year-veteran of the department, “has a long history of sporadic severe headaches and required surgery in January 2010 for an extremely painful medical condition.”

She said he resorted to ordering Tramadol online “as a far less expensive alternative under his BRPD health insurance program.”