SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The attorney for a Shreveport police detective who has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the city and its SPD Chief Willie Shaw says the detective was pulled from a high-profile investigation shortly after a witness came forward with new information.
Detective Rod Demery's attorney Pam Breedlove says the witness had given the information regarding an investigation into allegations of criminal misconduct at the city's Fire Station 8 to him, the FBI, Louisiana State Police and the Caddo Parish District Attorney's office.
"If Chief Shaw had nothing to hide, he shouldn't have removed the only officer getting to the bottom of stuff in his department," Breedlove says, adding that the day the witness offered a statement, Demery's supervisor indicated he was recommending the detective be transferred out of the homicide investigations unit.
Demery's lawsuit alleges that the chief and other higher-ups in the department knew of allegations of wrongdoing at Fire Station 8 and withheld information from him, the FBI, and State Police.
The veteran detective filed the suit on Monday in Caddo district court, claiming that he was harassed, subjected to frivolous internal affairs complaints and improperly reassigned after bringing up the possibility of potential criminal conduct on the part of members of the Shreveport Fire Department in connection with the investigation.
Demery joined the Shreveport Police Department in 1999 and joined the investigative unit in 2001. He was assigned to the Homicide unit in 2006. In his lawsuit, Demery asserts that he has maintained the highest homicide clearance rate of all the detectives in his unit and has a very good discipline and employee record with SPD.
According to the lawsuit, Demery was specifically requested by Shaw to investigate the possible criminal activity at the fire station, in which some of the members of that station are accused of pulling cruel pranks on two mentally challenged men and paying a woman to have sex with one of them.
Demery claims that shortly after the arrests of 5 firefighters as a result of that investigation, and again after the indictment of Fire Chief Craig Mulford and Assistant Fire Chief Tommy Carpenter, he was pushed by his commander, Capt. Bill Offer, to wrap up the case. However, Demery's lawsuit asserts that "he was not able to do so until all matters had been resolved to the satisfaction of the FBI, the La. State Police, and the Caddo Parish District Attorney's Office."
The day Offer was served to testify before a Grand Jury as a result of additional information gathered by investigators, Demery claims Offer told him that he was recommending his transfer out of the detective's office. Demery also points out that Offer "unexpectedly turned in retirement papers" upon his return from the vacation he took after he testified before that Grand Jury. Offer is no longer with SPD.
Demery also claims in the lawsuit that his transfer was ordered last week, just hours after a witness provided new information to all of the investigating agencies that allegedly indicates Shaw, Deputy Chief Duane Huddleston, Assistant Chief Chipper Hayes and Lt. Timothy Beckus "may not have been honest" in allegedly failing to share information they had in connection with the Fire Station 8 investigation long before the arrests of the firefighters. None of them, however, have been charged with any crimes or named as potential suspects in connection with the Fire Station 8 case.
In addition to the lawsuit, Demery has asked for a temporary restraining order preventing his transfer to evening shift patrol, alleging it was done improperly and that it "would cause immediate and irreparable injury in that it will interfere with the ongoing joint investigation with two other law enforcement agencies which investigation now must look at the actions of Shaw who has ordered this transfer."
At a ceremony Tuesday morning to promote police officers, Shaw declined to comment on the allegations, saying that he had not been served and that he was unaware of the lawsuit. Mulford and Carpenter both appeared in Caddo District Court Tuesday morning, where Mulford pleaded not guilty to five counts of malfeasance in office. Carpenter pleaded not guilty to perjury.
All 3 Caddo Parish First Judicial District Court Criminal judges have already recused themselves from the case, each citing the possibility that their impartiality might reasonably be questioned. These include Section A Judge Ramone Lafitte, who acknowledges in his order of self-recusal "that he has been a personal friend to one of the parties for many years." The other judges are Judge Scott Crichton, Section B, and Judge Michael Pitman, Section C. The case has been reassigned to Domestic Judge Joseph Bleich, who has signed the temporary restraining order. A hearing on the lawsuit is set for August 28.
Mulford and Carpenter both appeared in Caddo District Court Tuesday morning, where Mulford pleaded not guilty to five counts of malfeasance in office. Carpenter pleaded not guilty to perjury.