New Orleans police pioneer new way to stop misconduct, remove ‘blue wall of silence’

‘Ethical Policing Is Courageous’ encourages officers to stop colleague misbehavior, and chief says he will bring it to Baltimore.

New Orleans police officers patrol Mardi Gras in 2014. The New Orleans Police Department launched Ethical Policing Is Courageous, a program to encourage officers to stop or report misbehavior by other officers. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

The New Orleans Police Department was deep in the hole. Some of its officers ran into legal trouble in the wake of Hurricane Katrina: Some ultimately pleaded guilty to charges in the shooting of six people, and the Justice Department charged others with covering it up. Hundreds simply deserted the force during the 2005 storm. An officer killed an unarmed man during a raid in 2012. The department was placed under a federal consent decree that year, and public trust in the New Orleans police hit rock bottom. Its commanders were looking for a way out.

They needed to change their culture, said former New Orleans superintendent Michael S. Harrison, who will take the top police job in Baltimore next month. “The culture of policing was the ‘blue wall of silence,’ keeping secrets even when people do things wrong,” Harrison said. “That’s an old culture.” When police misconduct becomes public, Harrison said, “we get black eyes. It takes us years to recover from that. Sometimes you never get the citizens’ trust back.”

So the New Orleans police devised EPIC — “Ethical Policing Is Courageous.” Crafting a training program for officers that emphasized “active bystandership and peer intervention,” New Orleans created an expectation that officers should step in when a colleague is misbehaving — assaulting a citizen, lying on a report, planting evidence — and stop the bad acts before they happen or else report them. “When they see misconduct potentially about to happen,” Deputy Superintendent Paul Noel said, the goal is “to step in and say, ‘I got this. Back off.’” The idea is that once one bystander steps in, others often follow suit, and the peer pressure keeps the bad act from occurring.

“Active bystandership is contagious,” Noel said. “It’s hard to resist an outspoken co-worker who is intent on doing the right thing.”

New Orleans police are starting to build up anecdotes of EPIC in action. In one instance, officials said, officers had handcuffed a man after fighting, and a sheriff’s deputy from another department walked up and kicked the man in the face. “We don’t roll like that anymore,” one of the officers told the deputy, and then they arrested him. “Previously, everybody would have looked the other way,” Noel said.

At a recent Fourth of July festival, a handcuffed man spit blood and saliva in an officer’s face. “The officer was about to respond,” Noel said. “Then he thought about the EPIC program and walked away.” Trainers in the program use spitting in role-playing as a way of persuading officers not to respond with force that can ultimately harm the officer as well as the spitter.

Police officials say they see signs the program is having a positive impact. Citizen complaints have dropped significantly, from 850 in 2016 to 734 in both 2017 and 2018, they said. Citizen satisfaction with the police has risen, Harrison said. He said some citizens have called to offer an “attaboy” after watching one officer prevent another from misbehaving. “It hasn’t happened often,” Harrison said of the public calls, “but it’s happened.”

And Harrison said he will be taking EPIC with him to Baltimore. “I want to bring every best practice available that’s not there already,” Harrison said in an interview.”

The Baltimore Police Department has struggled with its own internal wall of silence, most notoriously in a federal investigation of the department’s gun task force, which was accused of planting evidence and covering up its own misdeeds. Two detectives were convicted of robbery and racketeering and six officers pleaded guilty to charges including robbery and obstruction of justice. Harrison said in an interview that he was not closely familiar with that case but would address internal corruption when he arrived in Baltimore.

Other cities have noticed the impact of EPIC and are taking steps to adopt the program and take down their own blue walls, including Honolulu; Albuquerque; Baton Rouge; and St. Paul, Minn., Noel said.

The program was created in part by studying the science and impact of active bystandership and also by involving officers from the start, Noel and Harrison said. The department sought out officers who were respected among the rank-and-file, whose support for EPIC would carry weight on the street, and recruited them to teach the program during in-service training. And the department pitched the program to union leaders as a way for officers to avoid disciplinary problems by not getting reported in the first place.

“This is designed to save officers’ careers and save their lives,” Noel said, by keeping officers out of the disciplinary system. “What union leader is going to say, ‘I don’t want that’?”

And the program launched by training the department’s top commanders first. “Chief Harrison’s been phenomenal for this,” Noel said. “He sat through eight hours of this. He doesn’t have eight hours to himself on a Sunday. He made it a point to sit in that class, and that set the tone for the program.”

New Orleans officers now wear an EPIC pin on their lapels, declaring their commitment to acting ethically and reporting any misbehavior they see. Body-camera footage of incidents where officers have intervened to stop bad actions is used in training sessions, and officers who successfully intervene are honored, Harrison said.

The success of the program is hard to measure, the New Orleans commanders said, because preventing episodes from happening means no written record is made. “It’s not about IA [Internal Affairs],” Noel said, though there is the incentive of not writing reports and undergoing internal investigations by not misbehaving. “What we can measure is the citizens’ complaints that have gone down dramatically, and the citizen satisfaction has steadily risen.”

And now New Orleans is adding a second component to EPIC — intervening with officers who may be depressed or suicidal. “We know that officers are more likely to die by suicide than being shot by a perpetrator,” Noel said. “We train extensively about how to deal with dangerous suspects. But what training do we do to recognize the signs of suicide, depression and mental illness?”

So now EPIC is also being used to encourage officers to spot troubling or self-destructive behavior by their colleagues. “If I see an officer going through a divorce, or using unhealthy means to cope, it’s easy to look the other way,” Noel said. EPIC pushes officers to intervene and suggest fellow officers get help. “We wanted to continue to find ways to save officers’ careers and lives.”

Tom Jackman, January 24, Washington Post, “New Orleans police pioneer new way to stop misconduct, remove ‘blue wall of silence’”,


Sugar Town Puts Louisiana Police Misconduct in the Spotlight

Investigation Discovery documentary details the shooting death of a young man in police custody, absurdly framed as a suicide.

Sugar Town. Investigation Discovery. Monday, August 6, 8 p.m.'Sugar Town'‘Sugar Town,’ Investigation Discovery

No network runs more true-crime slice-and-dice than Investigation Discovery. From Beauty Queen Murders to Bad Teachers to the epochal work of sociology Truth Is Stranger Than Florida, ID is pretty much round-the-clock police procedural, with cops hunting killers and rapists and guys who tear those tags off of mattresses.

Sugar Town is a complete reversal of form: This time, the police are the bad guys and their investigation is the crime. And the result is a show more horrifying than anything about the Boston Strangler or Aileen Wuornos. Low-key but packing a powerful punch, Sugar Town ought to convince even the most indifferent citizens that maybe this #BlackLivesMatter stuff is worth worrying about.

The life that didn’t matter—at least to the police—in this case belonged to Victor White III, a 22-year-old kid who lived in New Iberia, a small town in southern Louisiana. One night in March 2014, Little Vic, as his family called him, had walked to a convenience store with a friend for cigarillos.

On their way home, they were stopped by cops who thought they might be the two guys who were involved in a fight at the store that had just been called in. They weren’t, but a search of their pockets revealed that Little Vic had small bags of marijuana and cocaine.

His friend was sent packing, but a snugly handcuffed Little Vic was driven to the police department for booking. He didn’t make it. Police said he refused to get out of the patrol car, then whipped out a pistol that somehow hadn’t been discovered during the drug search, shouted “I can’t go back to jail!” and shot himself in the right side of his chest. The bullet went up and out through his left armpit and Little Vic was dead before the cop could even pull him out of the car.

His parents—called at their home a hundred miles away and told their son was dead—were instantly suspicious. Neither the cops nor the hospital would tell them exactly what had happened. (They found out the next from a television newscast.) They were kept from seeing the body for an incomprehensibly long time.

As the police investigation continued the next few days, their suspicions hardened into a certainty that the cops had killed Little Vic. There was a long gash on his forehead that doesn’t appear in photos and home movies taken earlier in the day, as if he’d been beaten.

And the shot that killed him seemed more and more improbable. How did the left-handed Little Vic twist his hands around to fire a shot through his right side? In fact, how did he twist his hands at all? They were bound behind his back with handcuffs that fastened together with a hinge rather than a chain, making it virtually impossible to maneuver them.

Then there was the matter of the gun, which the cop who arrested Little Vic hadn’t found while he was searching Little Vic for drugs. “It had to be in his butt crack,” the arresting cop explained. Little Vic’s father referred to his son’s death as the #houdinihandcuffkilling in his tweets.

Though Sugar Town is a sort of reverse-procedural, tracking the police investigation backward, it’s even more a chronicle of a heartbroken family’s dogged determination not to let their son’s case die along with his body. Victor White was both media-savvy and profoundly aware that the Iberia Parish sheriff’s office was a shadowy, sinister place. Victor had spent several years as the office’s liaison to the black community and left when a new sheriff was elected on a tough-on-crime platform that infused the town’s atmosphere with a piercing tension.

That sheriff, Louis Ackal, had more than the #houdinihandcuffkilling to worry about. A separate federal investigation, triggered by a jail security-camera video of his deputies unleashing a police dog on two inmates lying defenselessly on the floor, was uncovering a pattern of terrifying brutality in the sheriff’s office.

At least eight prisoners had died in Ackal’s custody, and deputies told the feds they were regularly sent out on “nigger-knocking” missions—pretty much just what they sound like—on the other side of the tracks. At the jail, the chapel—about the only place in the building not under security-camera surveillance—had been turned into full-blown torture chamber where inmates stood in line to be beaten senseless.

Eventually, Ackal would face both criminal and civil trials for his behavior. I won’t tell you how they turn out, though if you’ve been following the various Black Lives Matter cases the last couple of years, it’s not exactly a hard guess.

Yet even if you know how it’s going to turn out, Sugar Town is an irresistible story, a tale of sordid arrogance told magnificently through surveillance videos and taped depositions. Watching Ackal scream at the White family’s attorney that she has no right to question him—”I’m the sheriff and you’re in my office! And I’m tired of Victor White and his filthy mouth!”—is a heart-stopping experience. The word “Nazi” gets thrown around entirely too much these days, but this man is a true totem of totalitarianism.

His furious barbarity stands in stark contrast to the quiet, grief-stricken dignity of the White family. There is little rhetoric from the family’s side of Sugar Town, just a certainty—possibly naïve—that such evil cannot stand. “We may never receive justice,” says Little Vic’s sister quietly. “But I bet you another family will.”

Glenn Garvin | August 3, 2018, “Sugar Town Puts Louisiana Police Misconduct in the Spotlight”,

Angry Louisiana cops strangle man to death after he asks to see his arrest warrant

Rob Beschizza / 5:15 am Fri Aug 3, 2018

Armando Frank, 44, refused to get off his tractor when stopped by police. He demanded to see an arrest warrant. But the cops arresting him didn’t have time for that sort of legal stuff. So they attacked him, then killed him when he resisted.

A video recording of the arrest, obtained by The Advocate, shows officers growing frustrated with Frank, 44, after he refuses to step down from a tractor near a Walmart store along La. 1. A use-of-force expert who reviewed the 10-minute recording at the newspaper’s request says the law officers escalated the exchange by placing Frank in a choke hold and attempting to yank him off the tractor. … A forensic pathologist hired by the parish had said in a report that manual strangulation was the primary cause of Frank’s death. The video shows Spillman mount the tractor behind Frank and apply a choke hold while another officer tries to pull him down. For a time, Frank is doubled-over while resisting. Officers had to carry Frank to a patrol car after his body went limp.


The officers names are Brandon Spillman and Alexander Daniel, deputies in Avoyelles parish, and Marksville, La., police officer Kenneth Parnell.

It is completely reasonable to receive a calm, detailed answer when you are asked why you are being arrested, rather than being executed in the street by enraged, screaming, out-of-control cops: “There’s no exigent circumstance here. He’s not attempting to flee, he’s not assaulting anybody, he’s sitting on a tractor and he’s asking reasonable questions they are refusing to answer,” said a use-of-force expert interviewed by The Advocate.

The arrest warrant was for simple trespassing, in connection with a dispute Frank was reportedly engaged in with his neighbors.

/ Rob Beschizza / 5:15 am Fri Aug 3, 2018 “Angry Louisiana cops strangle man to death after he asks to see his arrest warrant”,

Forced out over sex, drugs and other infractions, fired officers find work in other departments

By Kimbriell KellyWesley Lowery Steven Rich, December 28, 2017

The London Lodge Motel in New Orleans. A city police officer was accused of patronizing a prostitute there in 2010 while on duty. (Annie Flanagan/For The Washington Post)

By the time the New Orleans Police Department fired Carey Dykes, the officer had been sued for alleged brutality, accused of having sex with a prostitute while on duty and caught sleeping in his patrol car instead of responding to a shooting.

The 13-year veteran fought to get his job back but lost.

Even so, he returned to patrol months later — working for a nearby police department.

Dykes is one of dozens of officers forced out of the New Orleans department over the past decade for misconduct who were given badges and guns by other departments, according to a Washington Post analysis of state and city employment records, police personnel files and court documents. At a time of increased scrutiny of police nationwide, the ease with which fired or forced-out New Orleans officers found work at new departments underscores the broader challenge that law enforcement faces to rid itself of “bad apples.”

The New Orleans department has long been attempting to reform its ranks and shed a troubled past. In the past decade, the department has fired or otherwise pushed out at least 248 officers. Of those forced out, 53 have been hired by other police departments, according to information obtained through public records requests.

Many of those officers landed at smaller police departments in nearby parishes and colleges — some hired weeks or months after leaving New Orleans. While records show that some have had no complaints of misconduct since joining new departments, others have been fired again.

Records show that many of the 53 officers hired by other departments disclosed their troubled departures from New Orleans. About half of the 53 had been fired, and the rest resigned in lieu of being fired or quit while under investigation.

Some of the 248 officers were fired or forced out in New Orleans after abandoning their posts in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck the city. Others were fired or pushed out in the aftermath of a 2011 Justice Department civil rights investigation. The federal review concluded that officers “routinely” used unnecessary force and conducted unlawful arrests and that neither the public nor officers had faith in the department’s disciplinary process. City leaders instituted changes demanded by the Justice Department, adding to an exodus of officers.

Former New Orleans police superintendent Ronal Serpas said that sheriffs and other chiefs often justify rehiring officers by dismissing their problems as “political.” As a result, troubled officers remain in policing, he said.

“By the time you reach the point of terminating someone, that’s usually something that speaks to [the officer’s] ethics or ability to perform their job,” said Serpas, who led the New Orleans department from 2010 to 2014.

Louisiana is one of 44 states that require that officers be certified, or licensed. In some states, police chiefs pursue the decertification of officers they fire — to prevent them from being hired at other police departments.

But Louisiana has not decertified a single officer for misconduct in the past decade, records show. State officials said that local departments have failed to request decertifications. Local police officials said, however, that the process of decertifying an officer they no longer employ can be laborious and may not be worth the time.

Serpas said steps should be taken to make sure that officers are stripped of their state law enforcement certifications and that a national database of these officers should be created to help prevent them from returning to law enforcement.

“If you get terminated for untruthfulness or bribery or brutality, you really should not be allowed to be a police officer anywhere in the country,” Serpas said.

Squad cars parked on top of the New Orleans Police Department building on Nov. 9, 2017. (Annie Flanagan/For The Washington Post)
Sleeping, buying sex on duty

Police officer Carey Dykes arrived near the French Quarter just before dawn as fists were flying and fires were burning in the street. Soon, bottles were flung in his direction.

It was Feb. 16, 1999, and Dykes was quickly joined by a dozen other officers as the Mardi Gras party descended into chaos.

By the time it was over, police had jailed nearly 60 people. In the aftermath, Dykes, other officers and the city faced two federal lawsuits from people who alleged that they had been falsely arrested and were beaten by police. In the suits, witnesses said they saw Dykes and another officer “brutally beat” a man with nightsticks.

The city settled the two cases for a combined $60,850. In 2001, Dykes and the city were sued again: A pregnant woman said she was assaulted by Dykes as he tried to arrest her and her then-husband outside a French Quarter strip club.

“That cop, Dykes, came up to me before I could get all the way up off the ground and slammed me back down on the ground with my face in the ground and kept saying, ‘Keep still. Don’t move. Don’t move,’ ” the woman, Chantal Jarrell, now 45, said in an interview.

Carey Dykes. (Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office)

The city and the officers generally denied the allegations but settled her suit for $400.

Records show that during the next decade, Dykes was suspended three times for violating department policies, including failing to follow instructions and filing incomplete reports.

Then, in July 2010, a woman told police officials that an officer was paying women for sex. She told internal affairs investigators that the officer — whom she identified as Dykes from a photo lineup — spent some of his nightly shifts cruising the streets “picking up working girls.” She complained that she had sex with him but was not paid.

The woman, who was not identified in the investigative reports, said Dykes picked her up in his squad car July 4 and took her to the London Lodge, a nearby motel.

She said that she took a shower and emerged to see Dykes naked. The two then had vaginal and oral sex without a condom, she said.

Motel records showed that Dykes rented a $45 room, checking in with his driver’s license at 2:50 a.m. — in the middle of his patrol shift.

Investigators set up a sting.

Over several days, police recorded the woman speaking with Dykes on the phone while he was on duty. In one recording, the woman said she had a bacterial infection when they had unprotected sex and told him that he might pass it on to his wife.

Dykes said he was not worried about a bacterial infection. “Only STD will affect me,” he told her.

On the sting’s fifth night, investigators watched Dykes park his squad car at the London Lodge at 3:35 a.m. Almost an hour later, a 911 call came in from nearby: Two men had wrecked a Chevrolet Tahoe and fled on foot armed with assault rifles.

A dispatcher radioed Dykes to respond to the call but got no answer from him.

Ten minutes after the initial 911 call, the neighborhood erupted in gunfire, prompting five additional calls to 911.

Dykes’s white marked patrol car did not move, records show. Concerned, one of the officers watching Dykes approached his police cruiser: Dykes was inside asleep. The surveillance officer snapped a photo.

At 5:15 a.m., Dykes drove off and later wrote in his activity report that he had responded to the shooting.

The internal affairs investigation found that Dykes had violated department rules 17 times, including not devoting his entire shift to his police duty, transporting a civilian in his work vehicle, dishonesty and failing to respond to a dispatcher.

Dykes initially denied many of the allegations and said he did not have intercourse with the woman. When confronted with the findings of the surveillance, he admitted to having oral sex with the woman at the motel and failing to respond to the shooting.

Three months later, in February 2011, Dykes was fired. He appealed, but an arbitrator upheld his dismissal.

When reached by phone, Dykes, 44, said of his firing: “It happened over seven years ago. I’m not worried about it.” He declined to answer questions or comment further.

Months after he was fired, Dykes applied for a police job at Delgado Community College in New Orleans, records show.

Superintendent of Police Michael Harrison in his office at the New Orleans Police Department on Nov. 9, 2017. (Annie Flanagan/For The Washington Post)

When Delgado officials made contact with New Orleans to verify Dykes’s prior employment, they were told to contact New Orleans’s public integrity division. It is unclear whether anyone from Delgado did.

On Aug. 5, 2011, the community college offered Dykes a job with its police force, hiring him for about $12,000 less than he said he had made in New Orleans.

Delgado spokesman Tony Cook said in an email that the college could not say why it hired Dykes despite his previous firing, whether the college had checked Dykes’s references or whether the officer has faced disciplinary action since his hiring.

In July 2016, while employed at Delgado, Dykes secured a second job at the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office as a reserve deputy sheriff. Orleans Parish officials declined to be interviewed. He continues to work at both departments, records show.

New Orleans Superintendent of Police Michael Harrison said he ran into Dykes while visiting the Delgado campus. Harrison, who led the sting that ousted Dykes, said it was the first time he had seen the officer in a police uniform since he was fired.

The two shook hands and exchanged a cordial smile, he said.

“He knows that I know. . . . I would just say that I would hope that he has changed,” Harrison said.

‘I could have been killed that night’

Police officials and law enforcement experts say that smaller police agencies may have less capacity to vet potential hires and that the departments are more willing to take chances on officers with troubled backgrounds because of the national shortage of officers.

“Because of the market demand for experienced police officers, many organizations are willing to overlook blemishes in a police record in order to keep their numbers up,” said Peter Scharf, a criminologist and professor in the School of Public Health at Louisiana State University.

Hiring these officers can save a department money: Officers who were fired or left amid investigations may not have to be trained or certified and will often accept lower salaries, experts noted.

Some police advocates who represent officers defended the rehirings and said many officers deserve second chances because they may have been forced out of departments unfairly.

“There’s far too often where some police officers are terminated for reasons that are not just and not right,” said Eric Hessler, an attorney for the Police Association of New Orleans.

All but two of the 53 New Orleans officers who were rehired at other departments found work in Louisiana; the others resurfaced in jobs at police departments in nearby Alabama.

Some of the officers have gone on to be fired again.

Jake Schnapp Jr. was one of half a dozen officers who were patrolling the French Quarter in plainclothes late Dec. 30, 2006, when they saw Ronald Coleman walking briskly through the rain.

Coleman, a 25-year-old lawyer, had been visiting a friend who worked on Bourbon Street. He said he was heading to his car when he noticed men in Mardi Gras beads following him. Moments later, he said in an interview, the men threw him to the ground without identifying themselves as officers.

“I thought I might be getting jumped,” said Coleman, who said he was handcuffed and then punched and kicked while on the ground. “I was completely powerless.”

Ronald Coleman, who now lives in Sacramento, was accosted in December 2006 by a group of police officers as he walked to his car in New Orleans. Two would be fired, and one of the two became a deputy in Plaquemines Parish. (Nick Otto/For The Washington Post)

Coleman said that when he began screaming, “I’m a lawyer,” one of the men, later identified as Schnapp, took off the handcuffs and told him that the police had been looking for a pickpocket who had robbed an elderly man. Coleman said Schnapp then escorted him to a nearby police station, promised to file a report and gave him a number to call to follow up.

Coleman said that later that night, he realized the extent of his injuries — two black eyes, a bruised rib and what turned out to be a mild concussion — and went to another police station and filed a report.

That triggered an investigation by internal affairs.

Schnapp told investigators that his group of officers had been approached by a man who said he had been robbed of his wallet and who pointed down the street to Coleman as the suspect. “Grab that guy,” Schnapp said he instructed his fellow officers.

In his incident report, however, Schnapp wrote that the altercation began when Coleman slipped on the wet pavement, the officers fell on top of him and he began “kicking, screaming, and flailing his arms,” according to a local news story at the time.

Investigators concluded that Schnapp “knowingly and intentionally” failed to include in his report that the officers had punched Coleman.

In July 2007, the department fired Schnapp and a second officer. Schnapp soon secured a new job with the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office, just south of New Orleans.

Jake Schnapp. (St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office)

After six years, Plaquemines fired Schnapp in 2013, the department’s records show.

Department officials declined to explain the firing and said it was the result of an “internal issue” not related to his performance or public safety.

“He had his backers and detractors,” Terry Sercovich, a Plaquemines spokesman, said of Schnapp. He said officials involved in Schnapp’s hiring have left the department.

Former sheriff Jiff Hingle, who hired Schnapp, went on to spend nearly four years in federal prison after pleading guilty to public corruption charges. He did not respond to requests for comment. Former sheriff Lonnie Greco, during whose tenure Schnapp was fired, was voted out of office and did not respond to requests for comment.

Schnapp worked briefly as a private security contractor and in July 2013 applied to be a deputy with the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office. In his application, Schnapp acknowledged both firings, but he was hired.

In a statement, St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said the department investigated Schnapp’s employment history and called his listed references.

“Further investigation regarding his terminations revealed conflicting factual findings of alleged policy violations,” Champagne said. “We also received credible information that Mr. Schnapp’s terminations may have been partially motivated by political considerations and personality conflicts instead of hard facts.”

Records show that Schnapp was reprimanded by the St. Charles Parish department in November 2016 after his superiors concluded that he had made an inappropriate comment to a colleague. He was put on probation for 90 days and sent to cultural sensitivity training. Champagne said that has been the officer’s only misstep. “He has proven to be an excellent deputy,” Champagne said.

Schnapp, 52, and the attorney who represented him after his firing in New Orleans did not respond to requests for comment.

Coleman, who now works as a lobbyist in California, said that he moved out of Louisiana because of the beating by police. He sued the city, settling for $18,941. He said he was stunned to learn that Schnapp had been hired by another police department.

“I could have been killed that night,” Coleman said. “And to know that this officer . . . is able to go to another jurisdiction and potentially engage in that same behavior somewhere else is very problematic.”

Ten years, five departments

Noel Sanders was fired by New Orleans in 2007 when internal affairs investigators concluded that he had failed to seek medical attention after his 4-year-old son was burned by scalding bath­water.

According to accounts in court and city records, the officer was at work when, after 10 p.m. on May 1, 2001, his fiancee told the boy to draw his own bath. Moments later, she heard a splash. Nearly a minute passed before she scooped his pink body from the water.

Noel Sanders. (Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office)

The next day, Sanders noticed that his son’s skin was peeling, records show. Investigators would later note that the boy’s bedding appeared to be stained with blood. Sanders spoke to his mother and to the commander of the police department’s child abuse section about the injuries. Sanders’s mother advised him to seek medical treatment for the child, but he did not. She later called an ambulance, records show.

The boy was flown to a Texas hospital “at substantial risk of death” with second- and third-degree burns over half his body, records show. Sanders and his fiancee were arrested and each charged with cruelty to a juvenile, a felony.

His fiancee was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison. In 2007, prosecutors dropped the charges against Sanders because his son was not present to testify, records show. He successfully petitioned to have the case expunged from court records.

The New Orleans Police Department completed its internal investigation and fired Sanders because his actions had violated several policies and put his son’s life in jeopardy, records show. An appeals court that upheld his firing said Sanders’s failure to summon medical help “casts doubt on his ability to properly handle emergency situations.”

“I really don’t want to talk about that situation,” Sanders, 47, said when reached by The Post. “That’s old news for me, and I’ve gone on with my life now.”

In 2008, Sanders was hired as an officer at Delgado Community College, where he had once studied criminal justice. The college hired him, citing a “current shortage of police officers,” according to an internal memo.

But his time there lasted less than a year: Sanders was fired in January 2009 for “failing to meet established standards of performance,” according to a department memorandum.

By August, Sanders was hired by the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office as a deputy assigned to the jail, employment records show. He was again fired after less than a year on the job, this time for “job abandonment” after he called in sick and failed to show up for any of his later shifts, records show. The sheriff’s office declined to comment.

Sanders’s next stop was as a police officer working for Louisiana State University, where he was hired in October 2011. He trained and supervised officers on the health sciences campus in New Orleans, employment records show. He remained there until April 2017, when he was hired at a fifth police department, the Orleans Levee District Police.

That hiring prompted a review by the Metropolitan Crime Commission, a nonprofit that works with local police and federal authorities to identify and combat public corruption.

In a letter last month, the commission said that it had received complaints that the Orleans Levee District Police had hired officers with “questionable backgrounds,” including Sanders.

The commission accused Orleans Levee police of hiring Sanders despite “apparent red flags” and alleged that he lied on his job application. The commission said he claimed to have been fired once, although he had been fired from three departments. The commission requested that Orleans Levee police review Sanders’s hiring to see whether it violated any of that department’s policies.

In the meantime, Sanders remains with the department.

“At this time, based on what we know of Officer Sanders’s performance to date, since March 1, which has been very good, I do not anticipate doing anything different with Officer Sanders,” Derek Boese, an official with the Flood Protection Authority, which oversees the Orleans Levee department, told The Post.

Hirings called into question

Delgado Community College has hired more of the castoffs from New Orleans in the past decade than any other police department. In recent years, the small agency, charged with protecting the state’s largest community college, has primarily hired former New Orleans police officers — including seven who were fired or pushed out under investigation.

“There may be an occasion when someone who has been terminated from another department would be able to meet hiring qualifications for a position with Delgado Campus Police,” said Cook, the Delgado spokesman.

Most of the seven officers were hired by Ronald T. Doucette Sr. when he was Delgado’s police chief. Doucette is a former New Orleans police officer who in 27 years with the department worked his way up the ranks, even serving for a time as an assistant superintendent.

In 2003, he left New Orleans to become the chief at Delgado, where he had once been a student, to run the force of 24 armed officers who patrol the campus in marked cars and golf carts.

During his 11 years at Delgado, Doucette hired five officers who had been forced out of New Orleans, including Carey Dykes and Noel Sanders.

In an interview, Doucette, 67, said that he had hired former New Orleans officers in an effort to “improve the quality of the officers at the college.” He said those hires included officers who had been fired, because they deserved a second chance.

“You can’t keep punishing people for the same mistake,” Doucette said.

Of Sanders, Doucette said he was aware of the child abuse allegations against him. He said he fired Sanders because of an incident on campus, which Doucette declined to discuss. “I made mistakes,” Doucette said of Sanders’s hiring.

Doucette did not return a subsequent call seeking comment about Dykes.

Another officer Doucette hired was his nephew Eric P. Doucette Sr., who was fired by New Orleans police in 2005 for neglect of duty, records show. The chief said he followed ethics guidelines and did not directly supervise his nephew. Eric Doucette, 59, did not respond to requests for comment.

When Ronald Doucette resigned from Delgado in 2014, college officials replaced him with another former New Orleans police officer: Julie Lea, a former lieutenant in internal affairs.

Julie Lea at an event in New Orleans on Aug. 17, 2014. (Josh Brasted)

Lea had resigned from New Orleans while under investigation for “neglect of duty” for failing to “properly supervise subordinates,” according to police records.

In preparation of a federal audit that was part of the ongoing Justice Department investigation, Lea was told to complete pending internal affairs cases, records show. Investigators said Lea, however, allowed one of her employees to retire with 18 cases pending. The department later sustained the administrative violations against Lea.

Lea, 44, told The Post that she was “never notified of an investigation.” By the time New Orleans internal affairs upheld the charges against her, she had been sworn in as chief at Delgado. Delgado officials said they were unaware that she was under investigation when she was hired.

One of Lea’s hires at Delgado was fired New Orleans officer Mario Cole, who lost his job in 2013 after 11 years with the department when he tested positive for opiates during a random drug test. Through Delgado police, Cole, 38, declined to comment.

“I’m sure I looked into it and found out what it was,” Lea said when asked whether she knew of Cole’s prior misconduct when she hired him in 2016. “But I don’t remember.”

In January 2017, after a little more than a year as Delgado’s chief, Lea was fired.

An internal investigation by the college concluded that she had misused state funds and compromised student safety by ordering two of her officers to guard the homes of relatives of a deceased police chief during his funeral.

“Most chiefs would never get fired for something like that,” Lea said.

She said that after she was fired, she applied for another job as a police chief but was not hired. She now runs a nonprofit that she founded to organize Mardi Gras parades and events.

In August, Delgado replaced Lea with yet another former New Orleans officer: Eddie Compass III.

Compass spent 26 years with the New Orleans Police Department, ascending to superintendent. He resigned in 2005 amid widespread criticism of the department’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

In an interview, Compass, 59, said that all of Delgado’s hiring of New Orleans officers with troubled records predated his arrival. He said he has not had any problems with the officers but criticized the department’s prior hiring practices. He said Delgado will no longer hire officers who have been forced out of other departments.

“They never should have been hired,” he said. “But that’s something I can’t do anything about.”

Delgado’s police department has three openings.

Kimbriell KellyWesley Lowery Steven Rich, December 28, 2017, Wasington Post, “Forced out over sex, drugs and other infractions, fired officers find work in other departments”,

City of VP facing lawsuit for actions of Marshall Deputy

Arthur Phillips

Managing Editor

The lawsuits keep coming against the City of Ville Platte for the actions of its law enforcement officers.
In the most recent federal lawsuit filed on Friday, plaintiff Maria Joseph alleges that Ville Platte City Marshall Deputy Arthur Phillips forced her to have sex with another man in Fenton, La., “while Arthur watched.”
According to the lawsuit, the incident occurred on Friday, May 5, 2017, when Joseph was “approached by Arthur Phillips,” in Ville Platte, and “asked for her phone number, which she gave.”
When Phillips contacted the plaintiff, he “asked if she wanted to take a ride to Kinder.” In the suit, Joseph claims that she agreed to go with Phillips because she “assumed it was a date.”
However, according to the plaintiff, when Phillips picked her up “dressed in his uniform and driving a marked Ville Platte City Marshall unit,” he “drove her to Fenton, Louisiana; not Kinder.”
In the lawsuit it claims that once they arrived in Fenton, Phillips brought Joseph to his apartment, and then “called a couple of friends and neighbor, ‘Chris’ and ‘Ike,’ to come over and visit.”
After asking his friends if they had any money, Phillips then proceeded to “instruct the plaintiff to go ahead and touch Chris.”
Joseph claims that after “she told the men she didn’t do prostitution,” Phillips “proceeded to physically push Joseph onto Chris.”
According to the lawsuit, Phillips then “told her to give Chris oral sex and to do it for daddy.”
After the plaintiff denied Phillips’ request, Chris told Phillips “to leave the plaintiff alone and left the apartment.”
Later that night, Phillips and Joseph went to a nearby store. Once they arrived back at his apartment, Phillips “handed Ike $10.00 and asked him to go buy some weed, which he did.”
At around 11:30 p.m., the owner of the store they had just gone to – Joe – arrived at Phillips’ apartment with $120.
After the store owner and Joseph smoked weed, Phillips “told the plaintiff to hug Joe, and she did.”
According to the lawsuit, “While hugging Joe, Arthur Phillips pushed them together and told Maria Joseph, ‘come on shorty, do it for daddy.’”
Joseph then “proceeded to have sex with Joe while Arthur watched.”
According to the suit, “The assault lasted from about 11:30 p.m. to 2:00 a.m., when she fell asleep.”
Joseph was then awoken by Phillips “around 4:30 a.m.” Saturday morning. The plaintiff alleges that this is when “she told” Phillips “to bring her home.”
However, instead Phillips drove the plaintiff to a store, where he “purchased Tanqueray (gin) and some food,” and then he returned with the plaintiff to his apartment.
Phillips then “told the plaintiff that he wanted her to watch him have sex with his girlfriend.” Phillips’ girlfriend, however, was “furious,” and picked up a gun that was in the Marshall Deputy’s apartment.
It was at this point that Phillips proceeded to call the “Jefferson Davis Sheriff’s Office for help.”
According to the suit, when deputies arrived, Phillips “went outside to explain” what happened.
The deputies then arrested Joseph and “accused her of prostitution.”
Days later, Phillips was also arrested by the JDSO for soliciting prostitution, and then released from jail on bond.
Both individuals were released from jail on bond.
Since the incident, Phillips was suspended from the VP City Mashall’s Office, and fired from his position with the Chataignier Police Department where he worked as a patrolman.
According to Ville Platte City Marshall Ronald Doucet, an internal investigation is being performed with assistance from the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office and will be complete next week.
Doucet said, “Once the internal investigation is complete we will be able to determine what we are going to do in terms of whether Arhur Phillips will be let go or not.”
Until then, Phillips will remain on administrative leave from the marshall’s office with pay.

Former Ville Platte officer accused of forcing women to pose for revealing pictures entered guilty plea

VILLE PLATTE La. (KLFY) – A former Ville Platte police officer accused of forcing women to pose for revealing pictures to avoid getting arrested entered a guilty plea today.

Larry Fontenot pleaded guilty to one count of abuse of office and two counts of intimidation by an officer.

Fontenot was sentenced to 5 years of hard labor, which was suspended, and 5 years’ probation.

For the officer intimidation charges, Fontenot was sentenced to 6 months in jail, which was also suspended, and 1-year probation for each count.

As part of the plea, Fontenot can’t hold any type of law enforcement position and has to attend court ordered counseling.

Former Ville Platte officer accused of forcing women to pose for revealing pictures entered guilty plea

Judge finds ex-NOPD cop guilty of malfeasance for kicking burglary suspect


  • May 31, 2017 – 8:53 am

Van Ballard

A judge found a retired New Orleans Police Department officer guilty of a felony Wednesday for kicking a captured burglary suspect in the face.

Criminal District Court Judge Franz Zibilich said he came to his decision with reluctance, but that former officer Van Ballard’s claim that he kicked the suspect by accident was not believable.

Zibilich ordered Ballard, 66, to spend two years on inactive probation as a result of his conviction on one count of malfeasance in office. Ballard will not face jail time.

“I truly believe that this was a one-time mistake and hence this sentence, because if I believed otherwise, this is the sort of thing that this community could not tolerate and would have resulted in jail time,” Zibilich said.

Ballard was an NOPD officer from 1987 to 2012. Early on the morning of Nov. 3, he was working as a reserve Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy on a security detail when he heard police officers yelling at a car burglary suspect in an Uptown alleyway.

Ballard testified that he ran into the alleyway to help the officers, then slipped and kicked the prone suspect in the face by accident.

But a current officer involved in the arrest, Sgt. Terrance Wilson, said the kick was intentional. Wilson testified Tuesday that the suspect, 20-year-old Maurice Johnson, was already under control when Ballard kicked him.

Zibilich said he found Wilson’s testimony to be more credible than Ballard’s.

Defense attorney Eric Hessler argued that even if the kick were intentional, it might have been justified in response to the burglary suspect’s resistance. But Zibilich said the kick came just before the suspect was in handcuffs, meaning he was already under control.

“I do not in any way, shape or form think you to be a bad person. I want you to understand that I do not think you to be a rogue cop,” Zibilich told Ballard as he announced his judgment.

“I cannot, however, forgive what at the very least … is a complete lack of judgment, because that’s what I think it was. And it is really truly unfortunate that a lapse of judgment equates to a felony conviction. I think that is a shame,” he said.

2 Terrebonne Parish deputies fired after video shows altercation with arrested man

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 8.01.26 PM.png
(Screenshot of video showing deputies yelling at man in custody)

Two Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s deputies have been fired after a cellphone video, shared on social media, showed an officer shouting and cursing at a handcuffed man — and then removing his handcuffs while challenging him to a fight during a Saturday night (May 13) arrest in Dulac.

The deputies, Joseph Cehan III, 25, and Charles Cook Jr., 26, lost their jobs after an internal investigation determined that both had violated Sheriff’s Office policy via “conduct unbecoming of a police officer,” according to Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter.

The firings follow social-media circulation of a video that captured one of the deputies yelling and cursing at 18-year-old Christopher Verdin Jr. of Dulac, whom they arrested on charges of illegal use of a weapon, illegal carrying of a weapon and aggravated cruelty to animals.

“The action of these deputies that was shared on social media does not reflect the attitude, training and professionalism of our office and will not be tolerated,” Larpenter said in a news release issued Monday.

Cehan was hired in 2014 as a patrol deputy. Cook was hired in 2013 as a correctional officer but was soon transferred to the patrol division.

In addition to the firings, a rookie deputy was given a letter of reprimand, Larpenter said. The video shows three deputies on the scene.

WARNING: Graphic language. and Cook were responding to complaints that Verdin had beat a dog on the head with a crescent wrench and then fired two shots at the dog with a .45-caliber handgun.

“You want me to take this f—— badge off and them handcuffs off and see what the f— you really gonna do?” the deputy can be heard shouting at Verdin as he sits handcuffed in the back of a patrol car. “You ain’t s—, bruh,” the deputy adds before continuing to yell at Verdin and, eventually, pull him from the back of the car and remove his handcuffs while continuing to challenge Verdin to fight. The other deputy can be seen nearby.

In the video, a third deputy, standing slightly away from the patrol car, can be seen approaching the person taking the video and questioning his presence at the scene, while also using foul language.

“Don’t f——-touch me. Go over there in that corner,” that deputy says to the person filming.

“They don’t want nobody to see what they do,” the person filming says.

According to the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office, the video captured only a portion of deputies’ interactions with Verdin, which began around 6:45 p.m. Saturday, when Verdin’s mother asked a dispatcher to send officers because Verdin was on methamphetamines and had beaten their dog with a wrench and then pulled a gun from his waistband and fired two shots at the dog, which was very close to her, the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement released Sunday morning.

Verdin’s mother said she had locked herself inside the home and that Verdin had left on foot. She told the dispatcher that she feared for her life, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Responding deputies found Verdin walking on Grand Caillou Road, about a quarter-mile south of his home, and handcuffed him, taking him into and custody, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Deputies confiscated his gun, along with an extended magazine, and then took Verdin back to the scene to continue the investigation. While in the backseat of the patrol car, Verdin was “out of control as he was kicking the door and spitting,” according to the Sheriff’s Office. He was ordered out of the car after he refused to stop kicking and spitting.

“The deputy was instructing Verdin to get out of this patrol car to be placed in the second patrol car and he refused,” the Sheriff’s Office. “Verdin and the deputy exchanged curse words towards one another.”

The video shows Verdin cursing at the deputies.

“The deputy’s choice of words was not very professional and does not reflect the integrity of the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office,” the Sheriff’s Office said in the Sunday statement, adding that the deputies’ actions would be investigated.

On Monday, Verdin remained in the Terrebonne Parish jail on a $75,000 bond, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Ville Platte City Marshal Deputy arrested for promoting prostitution

Published: May 9, 2017, 5:04 pm Updated: May 9, 2017, 5:09 pm

VILLE PLATTE, La. (KLFY) – A Ville Platte City Deputy Marshal is behind bars after allegedly promoting prostitution.

Arthur Lee Phillips was arrested for promoting prostitution.

“It doesn’t surprise me here in Evangeline Parish and Ville Platte that this type of behavior by law enforcement officers is going on,” said resident Arthur Sampson Jr.

On May 5, Phillips picked up Maria Joseph and transported her to Fenton in an unmarked police car.

The unmarked unit belongs to his employer, the Ville Platte City Marshal.

Authorities say Phillips and Joseph had consensual sex.

He then took her to another location in Fenton to offer her up for sex with another person.

Joseph was ordered to perform sex acts with two individuals and Phillips received $160 for it.

Several residents expressed to News Ten that they are fed up with addressing the issues with Ville Platte law enforcement.

“They hire these people and don’t really check their background,” explained Sampson, “Knowing that you have a justice department investigation already going on, with the Ville Platte Police Department, with the Evangeline Parish Sheriff, it seem like they should take more precaution in hiring.”

In fact, Sampson said this isn’t the first time he has heard about Phillips acting inappropriately

“Allegedly stopping women and they don’t give phone numbers or whatever he write them tickets, I did hear about that in the past, abusing his authority. And it’s nothing new.”

Ville Platte City Marshal, Ronald Doucet confirmed that Phillips has been suspended from his duties pending the outcome of the investigation.

Phillips is also a part-time police officer for the Chataignier Police Department.

His bond is set at $10,000.

Ville Platte City Marshal Deputy arrested for promoting prostitution

Police officer arrested in case involving sheriff’s son

April 28, 2017 1:52 PM in News, Source: WBRZ, By: WBRZ staff

BAKER – The WBRZ Investigative Unit has learned the son of East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux was arrested after being issued a misdemeanor citation for illegal discharge of a firearm following a shooting incident outside the Baker Walmart April 14.

Benjamin Gautreaux, another adult and a minor were cited.

Sources tell WBRZ a Baker Police sergeant was arrested for malfeasance in office and obstruction of justice for allegedly trying to cover up details of the shooting.

Baton Rouge Judge Mike Erwin signed an arrest warrant for Sergeant Adam Procell’s arrest. According to the warrant, Procell and another officer responded to a shots fired call at a Walmart in Baker located in the 14000 block of Plank Road on April 14. They arrived on scene to discover a window had been shot out.

Sources say Gautreaux was allegedly shooting a gun in his backyard during target practice, unaware bullets were flying toward the Walmart.

Procell told detectives that “due to interest in the sheriff’s office and everything,” that he was going to allow the other officer to do the report for the shooting. He also said “that he was not going to do anything anyway,” the arrest warrant notes.

Documents say Gautreaux’s wife is seen on video captured by Procell’s body camera telling officers that Gautraux’s son got a new gun and wanted to shoot it so they did so in the backyard of their home. The video also revealed that once Procell learned the identity of the shooters, he told them that “he was not going to say anything” and told Gautreaux that the charge for illegal discharge of a firearm was “BS,” according to the arrest warrant.

Gautreaux’s attorney, Chris Alexander, spoke to WBRZ’s Mark Armstrong about the arrest warrant. Alexander said that he asked Baker Police Chief Dunn if Procell could surrender himself into custody on Friday, however he refused.

“He refused, and gave me absolutely no reason why.   I have been doing this for 16 years, and I have never had that request refused by any law enforcement agency,” Alexander said.

Alexander stated that refusing for Procell to surrender suggested that the matter was “personal.”

“They are trying to destroy a man’s career.  It is shameful,” Alexander said. “The only crime here is the recklessness with which Chief Dunn is toying with an honorable man’s reputation,” he said.

Additionally, Alexander said that he believes the district attorney will “see through this nonsense.”