Former NOPD chief Warren Riley settles lawsuit against Cantrell over withdrawn job offer
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Former New Orleans police chief Warren Riley has settled a lawsuit brought against the City of New Orleans and Mayor LaToya Cantrell, over a job offer he says the administration reneged on.
Riley sued the mayor and city in November 2019, claiming damages of at least $700,000, which he said he incurred when Cantrell yanked back a written offer to become her administration’s Director of Public Safety and Homeland Security for an annual salary of $180,000. The written job offer was dated April 22, 2018.
As word of Riley’s impending hire leaked, Cantrell came under fierce public criticism for returning Riley to a prominent law enforcement role in the city, following his controversial tenure leading NOPD for nearly five years after Hurricane Katrina. Riley had resigned from the NOPD in May 2010 after 29 years on the force, and two years before the city entered into a federal consent decree aimed at reforming the department.
Riley’s lawsuit said he was brought to New Orleans to take part in an introductory news conference on May 2, 2018, announcing several members of the new mayor’s public safety team. But he said shortly before that press conference was to begin, he was summoned to the mayor’s office and told that his appointment had been “put on pause.”
The suit claimed Cantrell told Riley on May 15 that “there are very powerful people who live Uptown that do not support you for the position.” The next day, the suit said, Cantrell called Riley and told him, “Chief, I can’t do it. I’m sorry. I will not be able to appoint you. I will have to make you whole. I am sorry.”
The lawsuit said Cantrell hung up without saying another word. It said Riley was living in Georgia and had already resigned from a job with FEMA paying $170,000 annually when Cantrell withdrew the job offer he had accepted.
The breach-of-contract lawsuit was to be decided in a bench trial before U.S. District Judge Barry W. Ashe, scheduled to start Sept. 12. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed in an order dismissing the case, signed by Ashe on Aug. 19.
Since March 2020, Riley has headed the Delgado Community College police department, reportedly for an annual salary of $100,000.
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