LSP Air Support’s newest-hired pilot crashes helicopter only 19 days after solo certification, but Col. Davis staunchly defends operations even as NTSB alerted of alleged maintenance, operational deficiencies.

Certification of LSP Trooper Joseph B. Dessens, Air Support’s newest-hired pilot, who crashed a Bell 206 helicopter on October 6, 2021, only 19 days after obtaining his certification to fly solo.

Most longer-term subscribers of Sound Off Louisiana are well-aware of our past features regarding concerns expressed by those with integral knowledge of Louisiana State Police (LSP)’s Air Support operations.  In short, these individuals, several of whom have met with Sound Off Louisiana individually, have not minced their words in describing LSP’s Air Support operations.  They have used words and phrases such as “reckless” and “demonstrating a total disregard for safety and mechanical matters” to describe the operations of LSP Air Support.

When we published the most recent LSP Air Support feature on June 17, 2021, we indicated that, barring a major development, it would be our last in the series of features on LSP Air Support because it had been made crystal clear to us that LSP Col. Lamar Davis is totally dismissive of the concerns of those who have alleged the operations at Air Support are deficient and, in fact, went so far as to characterize LSP Air Support operations, and  specifically the hiring of civilian pilot Carl Bruce Stamey (which our sources cite is a direct violation of LSP policy), as “efficient.”  While those who expressed their concerns were nothing short of stunned and dismayed at Col. Davis’ backing of LSP Air Support, we indicated on the video accompanying the just-linked feature that, “We don’t know what more we can do!”

Well, now it turns out that a major development at LSP’s Air Support has transpired, and that is the fact that the  LSP Air Support Unit experienced an emergency crash landing on October 6, 2021.  While the mainstream media largely provided a “just the facts, ma’am,” and in typical fashion for the mainstream media (note:  Channel 2 investigative reporter Chris Nakamoto is a notable exception) simply ran with whatever material LSP issues as factual, we were flooded with cries of, “We told you so!”  It wasn’t long before we were receiving anonymous emails telling us that we needed to follow up on this crash and specifically to focus on the experience of the pilot who crashed the aircraft.

Accordingly, we made public records requests for the qualifications of the pilot who crashed the helicopter.  That pilot turned out to be Joseph Dessens, and we immediately recognized that name as it reinforced what applicants to LSP Air Support (with considerably more flight hours and training who have been allegedly repeatedly passed over by LSP Air Support Commander Steven Lee), had been telling us:  Steven Lee isn’t going to hire anyone who isn’t a close friend of his, isn’t from the Alexandria area, or to be a “lock” hire by him, be both his friend and from Alexandria.

In fact, when we published our April 29, 2021 feature entailing the apparent first-ever hiring of a civilian pilot, Carl Bruce Stamey, in order that Air Support can essentially run a flight school as opposed to performing its core mission, we noted the fact that those aspirants’ concerns became reality!  From that feature:

———————————————————

Addendum (4/30/21 @ 12:23 p.m.):  Early this morning, we got official confirmation that YET ANOTHER Alexandria Trooper was hired for the most recent pilot opening as confirmed by LSPC Executive Director Jason Hannaman:

From: Jason Hannaman <Jason.Hannaman@LA.GOV>
Sent: Friday, April 30, 2021 11:45 AM
To: Robert Burns <robert@soundoffla.com>
Subject: RE: Erin Williams

 

State Police Trooper Joseph Dessens was promoted to State Police Pilot on 2/9/2021.

Dessens was hired as a trooper as part of the 2006 Class of Cadets.  From the preceding link:

TROOP E-Alexandria

  • Joseph Dessens
  • John Dauzat
  • William Martin
  • Alison McCampbell
  • James Rougeou
  • Joseph Simms

——————————————————

So, Lee does as so many who have expressed frustration with his leadership of LSP’s Air Support unit predicted he would and hired the Alexandria-based applicant, Joseph Dessens, over three other applicants for the most recent pilot position.

The results of our public records request demonstrates the fact that Dessens obtained his certification to fly solo on September 17, 2021 and, a mere 19 days later, he crashed the helicopter in which he was flying.

One of our primary sources for alleged deficiencies of LSP Air Support operations stated, “It was unfair the position they placed that pilot in!”

That informant, who has been harshly critical of LSP’s Air Support Unit and who also guided us on Gov. Edwards’ harrowing flight of late 2018, predicted it was a mere “matter of time” before a major crash transpired.  He expressed hope that there would be no casualties when it did.  Fortunately, the October 6, 2021 crash didn’t entail a casualty, but the helicopter is a total loss, and Dessens did suffer “minor injuries.”

We’ve also been told in no uncertain terms by pilots with considerable flight training that, while it is “possible” for an uneventful flight from Baton Rouge to Gonzales to suddenly experience mechanical failure right at the most critical phase of the flight (landing), it is highly unlikely and the odds are much higher that the cause of the crash was student pilot error.  These critics have also emphasized that LSP is not supposed to be “operating a flight school” out of its Air Support Unit, yet they claim that is precisely what LSP Air Support, under its current leadership, is doing.

As everyone is aware, we reported the concerns of LSP Air Support critics to FAA officials in Baton Rouge.  One of those officials conducted an investigation into Gov. Edwards’ aborted harrowing Shreveport flight of late 2018.  As we reported, notwithstanding the pilot’s retirement days after the flight, FAA declined to be critical of his handling of that flight or the decision to abandon Gov. Edwards’ Shreveport landing, return back to Alexandria, after which Gov. Edwards was driven by car back to Baton Rouge.

Several news accounts of the LSP helicopter crash of October 6, 2021 (including the one linked above) stated that this crash will also be investigated by the FAA.  From the WBRZ link on the crash above:

As is procedure in aircraft-related incidents, the FAA will investigate, State Police said.

One individual who happens to be the same one who advised us to reach out to the FAA regarding the alleged deficiencies of LSP Air Support, contacted us soon after the October 6, 2021 crash and stated that it was “fine” for the FAA to “assist” with the investigation of the October 6, 2021 crash, but that it should be the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) which serves as lead for the investigation.  He also indicated that it should concern the NTSB that LSP is operating an “in-house flight school.”  He said that pilots who wish to aspire to private industry pilot positions should obtain that training, “on their own time, and on their own dime, and not that of the taxpayers of Louisiana.”

With that in mind, he strongly encouraged us to reach out to the NTSB and alert them of the concerns of the LSP Air Support critics, and particularly the fact that a major helicopter crash came so soon after so many of them predicted that it was inevitable.

Accordingly, we did reach out to NTSB officials on November 10, 2021, and they responded back to our correspondence on Thursday, November 18, 2021.  Here is the official response to our correspondence:

From: Rodi Jennifer <Jennifer.Rodi@ntsb.gov>
Sent: Thursday, November 18, 2021 4:34 PM
To: Robert@SoundOffLA.com
Subject: RE: Louisiana State Police Helicopter Crash of October 6, 2021

 

Mr. Burns,

 

Thank you for taking the time to send this information to the National Transportation Safety Board. We appreciate your interest in aviation safety.

 

Best,

 

Jennifer S. Rodi, Ph.D.

Deputy Chief, Central Region

Senior Air Safety Investigator

National Transportation Safety Board

 

4760 Oakland Street, Suite 500

Denver, Colorado 80239

 

303-373-3505 (Office)

202-640-2968 (fax)

Obviously, we’ll be providing Dr. Rodi with a direct link for this feature seconds after it is published as a follow-up to her correspondence to us.

So, if a casualty does transpire in the future as a result of alleged disregard for safety and mechanical issues at LSP Air Support, nobody can claim the proper authorities weren’t made aware of the serious concerns of many of LSP’s Air Support critics.  We’ll simply reiterate what Burns stated on camera as he wrapped up the June 17, 2021 feature above, and that is, “We don’t know what else we can do.”

As for Col. Davis’ assessment of the unit being “efficient,” we have to openly question if losing an aircraft via pilot error, if in fact that is what transpired vs. a mechanical issue which was beyond the pilot’s control, when that pilot’s certification to fly solo transpired only 19 days prior to the crash, is really all that “efficient.”  At the meeting of the Baton Rouge Press Club of Monday, November 29, 2021, we provided Col. Davis an opportunity to reaffirm his statements entailing LSP’s Air Support efficiency and the soundness of its operations, and here’s what he had to say:

LSP Col. Lamar Davis staunchly defends LSP’s Air Support operations on November 29, 2021 in the face of an absolute avalanche of accusations that his faith and trust is misguided and misplaced given their totally 180-degree opposite views of the unit’s operations and the risks they assert that the unit poses as a result of what they characterize as “absolutely reckless disregard for safety and maintenance of LSP aircraft.”

Although our sources have not yet seen Col. Davis’ video above, we can already anticipate the attacks they are going to make regarding it.  The logic is going to be:  “Sure, anyone can have a crash the day after obtaining certification or the day after graduating a flight class, but why are Black Hawk helicopter pilots who ARE experts about the subject matter of helicopters being passed over to hire pilots who clearly ARE NOT subject-matter experts on flying helicopters?”  We believe that these pilots are owed an explanation from Col. Davis, and from our perspective, Davis has failed miserably to provide them with that explanation.

We also want to reiterate that the FAA official who investigated Gov. Edwards’ harrowing flight emphasized that, if LSP Air Support is engaging in the practice of hiring pilots with far fewer flight hours over pilots with far more flight hours, that is (an EXACT QUOTE), “a horrible practice!”  Nevertheless, he admitted the FAA is “powerless” to make any demands that, “this pilot has to be hired over that pilot.”

Being perfectly blunt, we are deeply disturbed by the dismissive attitude of LSP Command (and Col. Davis in particular) regarding the allegations which we have now extensively reported upon.  It is deeply disturbing that the potential exists for Col. Davis to be completely out-of-touch with the concerns which have been expressed to us, but we again reiterate that we’ve done all we know to do to draw attention to the matter, including the question we posed today at the BRPC meeting.

Here are links for past Sound Off Louisiana features on LSP’s Air Support operations:

1.  November 4, 2020:  LSP Pilot Michael Satcher II to be prosecuted for felony domestic abuse.  Satcher subsequently “retired” after first being permitted to deplete all of his annual leave and “K time.” [Which took well over a year!].  Sources have informed us of another former pilot at LSP Air Support who also resigned soon after, “beating the living s— out of his wife.”

2.   November 15, 2020:  Sound Off Louisiana makes public records requets for pilot qualifications for recent hires.  The results of those requests (available here) readily reveal the fact that Steven Lee has an extensive past history of passing over pilots with stellar qualifications (and far more hours of flying) to hire pilots with less hours and/or those from Alexandria (Satcher is from Alexandria as is Dessens).

3.  November 29, 2020:  An open question as to whether LSP’s Air Support Unit “conned” the Louisiana State Police Commission into de-emphsizing flight hours for promotions and/or hiring purposes.  Our sources tell us that it was “nothing short of a con job” and also state that Mark Morrison, who was the Command Chief of “Emergency Response” (but admitted he is, “not a pilot and cannot speak the language of pilots,”) and who has since retired from LSP, made a total fool of himself as he made statements to the Commission to convince them to de-emphasize flight hours for hiring decisions.

4.  December 27, 2020:  Satcher formally resigns from LSP.  We also elaborate on Sound Off Louisiana‘s continuing probe of LSP Air Support Operations.

5.  February 28, 2021:  In-depth analysis of Gov. Edwards’ aborted landing in Shreveport and return to Alexandria, after which he was driven back by car to Baton Rouge.

6.  April 29, 2021:  LSP is forced to admit it violated its on “trooper only” hiring practices for hiring pilots as it hires Carl Bruce Stamey, a civilian pilot.  Our sources tell us Stamey’s hiring is proof beyond any shadow of a doubt that LSP is operating a “flight school” for the purpose of training aspiring pilots to be able to qualify for more lucrative pilot positions in the private sector, which they assert is completely inconsistent with LSP’s Air Support Mission.

7.  June 17, 2021:  We wrap up our Air Support series by indicating that LSP Col. Lamar Davis defends Air Support’s hiring of Stamey as exploiting “efficiencies.”  Our sources were stunned at Davis’ assessment of LSP Air Support operations and how he is able to somehow reconcile his assessments of “efficiencies” as being consistent with LSP Air Support’s core mission (which they strongly stress is, “not to run an in-house flight school!”).

CLICK HERE for Col. Davis’ presentation in its entirety.

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Farmer Billy Broussard follows State Police Col. Davis’ admonition; files IA complaint against Trooper Scott Lopez alleging coordination with SMPG President Cedars to “illegally shut my farming operations down.”

Farmer Billy Broussard stands just outside Louisiana State Police headquarters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana moments after filing his complaint against Trooper Scott Lopez on Friday, November 19, 2021.

On Friday, November 19, 2021, farmer Billy Broussard filed a formal Internal Affairs complaint against Louisiana State Police (LSP) Trooper Scott Lopez.  Broussard explains in the following video his rationale for filing the complaint and the fact that he followed the admonition of LSP Col. Lamar Davis given to Louisiana citizens in a press conference Davis conducted on September 10, 2021:


Broussard elaborates on his rationale for filing his complaint against Trooper Lopez on Friday, November 19, 2021.

A few highlights from the narrative of Broussard’s complaint:

Trooper Lopez proceeded to angrily state to Mr. Miller:
“You better not drive down my road again if you know what’s good for you!” Mr. Miller immediately called me and informed me of Trooper Lopez’s statements to him and emphasized the fact that Trooper Lopez angrily stated to Mr. Miller that, if he (Lopez) did see Mr. Miller driving down “his” road again, he would issue him a citation.

What disturbed me most about Trooper Lopez’s conversation with me is that he voluntarily stated that he had “been working with Parish officials” regarding my property.  In fact, he met with parish officials the very next evening after the incident (i.e. on Tuesday, June 15, 2021 ). Six (6) days later, on June 21, 2021, I received a certified Cease and Desist (C & D) letter in the mail directing to me discontinue all farming operations on the property….I assert that it was inappropriate for Trooper Lopez to be coordinating with St. Martin Parish officials to attempt to shut down my farming operations.

In apparent efforts to “work with Parish officials” to shut down my farming operations, Trooper Lopez went door-to-door to surrounding homeowners to solicit support form them to have my farming operations shut down.

On August 31, 2021, St. Martin Parish President Chester Cedars filed an illegal Temporary Restraining Order to shut my farming operations down…..At the top of the list of witnesses was none other than “Scott Lopez.”

The only other non-parish official listed on the witness list is neighbor Blake Dubroc, whom Trooper Lopez specifically sought to assist him in his efforts to, in concert with Parish President Chester Cedars, illegally shut my farming operations down…In short, St. Martin Parish President Chester Cedars and Trooper Lopez teamed up to illegally shut down my farming operations.

As refenced in the video, the only video LSP claims to possess entailing the incident of the driver of Broussard’s truck being pulled over is the following dash cam video, which is devoid of any audio:

Dash cam video (no audio) of Broussard’s driver being pulled over by LSP Trooper Scott Lopez on Monday, June 14, 2021 at approximately 4:30 p.m.

The above video was obtained as part of a public records request; furthermore, we want to emphasize that LSP Capt. Nick Manale indicated to us that “body cam” video had been “recovered” entailing the incident.  Nevertheless, all that was provided to us was the above dash cam video, which is devoid of audio.  Here’s Manale’s communication to us (see page 23 of Broussard’s complaint):

The body cam video was recovered and a link was previously sent to Ms. Aucoin, who resigned from the agency last week. Our legal staff is getting a new evidence.com link and that video will be reviewed for any necessary redactions.

We also want to emphasize that we requested audio files from Troop I for incoming and outgoing phone calls from the timeframe of 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.  Here’s the correspondence we received from Capt. Manale entailing any such audio files (also on page 23 of the complaint):

The recorded phone lines were operating on a temporary replacement system at Troop I at the time of the request. Recovery of those files are still being attempted by our Office of Technology Services. If those files are recoverable, they will still need to be reviewed for citizens’ confidential information.

Giving Capt. Manale the benefit of the doubt that he simply mistyped body cam rather than dash cam above, Broussard felt compelled to draw the following logical conclusion as he wrapped up his complaint (see page 5 of the complaint  link above):

Given the inaccuracy of Capt. Manale’s statement on the nature of the video, I can only assume that, similar to the Ronald Greene incident, Trooper Lopez turned off his body-cam as a result of his anger and intent to vent his anger to my driver after he’d pulled him over.

As we’ve previously reported, we asked for and received the latest version of LSP’s body cam policy.  A retired LSP Trooper, who reviewed the policy and noted the repetitive use of the word “shall” (meaning not optional) in the policy and who has also reviewed the video above, stated:  “I think it’s clear Trooper Lopez violated that policy.”

Again, we’re going to give Capt. Manale the benefit of the doubt that he merely mistyped the nature of the video (i.e. body cam vs. dash cam) recovered vs. him trying to provide cover for Trooper Lopez.  Nevertheless, perhaps that matter can be an area for LSP Internal Affairs to delve into as they investigate the allegations Broussard has presented to them.

Direct links for previous features in the St. Martin Parish Government / Billy Broussard Saga:

1.  LSP Trooper Lopez allegedly demands Broussard’s driver not go down “my road” again (feature contains and extensive video tour of Broussard’s 33-acre farm).

2.  Cedars obtains court-ordered Temporary Restraining Order shutting down Broussard’s farming operations.

3.  Broussard’s attorney asserts in court filings that Cedars is on “crusade” to “harass” Broussard.

4.  Cedars caves and begs for TRO court hearing to be cancelled and offers major concessions to Broussard to do so.

5.  Sound Off Louisiana’s founder explains how SMPG President Chester Cedars is the “epitome and personification of Louisiana’s hostile reputation toward small businesses.”

If you would like to be added to our Sound Off Louisiana email list to be notified of future posts, simply go to our home page and scroll to the bottom (mobile devices) or to the top of the right-hand column (desktops).  Supply your email address within the subscribe box.  You’ll then receive an automated email from Word Press, and all you have to do is click on the blue “confirm follow” bar contained within that email, and you’ll begin receiving great posts such as the preceding one above.

Former State Police Commissioner Braxton finally gets answer to query of “How liable are we with regard to Cathy (Derbonne)?” The answer: Approximately $272,800!

Former Louisiana State Police Commission Executive Director Cathy Derbonne, likely uneasy because her job status is on the agenda, struggles to get the audio recording device to function properly at the outset of the January 12, 2017 meeting of the Commission.

As we begin this feature, we make one small request of our subscribers:  We ask that you watch the following 11-minute video of highlights of the January and February 2017 meetings of the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) because we believe this video firmly illustrates the political-hack nature of the Commission and demonstrates the abject failure and embarrassment that the Commission is to the citizens of Louisiana.  Every single citizen of this state should be embarrassed and ashamed of what is contained in the video which follows:


Highlights from the 1/12/17 and 2/17/17 LSPC meetings entailing efforts to terminate its then-Executive Director, Cathy Derbonne.

Because the video speaks for itself and is nothing short of a total disgrace, we provide no commentary on it whatsoever.  Nevertheless, viewers should make note of our captions which provide history and insight into why some of the members and others are conducting themselves in the manner they are and saying the things they say.

Now, probably most every subscriber who wants to has now viewed the infamous heated clash between former Commissioner Lloyd Grafton and current member Jared Riecke (if not, anyone is welcome to watch it at the preceding link).  That fact notwithstanding, we want to draw attention to a very small segment of that video wherein former Commissioner Donald Breaux angrily insisted that Grafton reveal the names of the four members who were firmly committed to terminating Cathy Derbonne if she did not voluntarily resign.  We want to focus on that brief segment right now:


Then-Commissioner Donald Breaux, at the 2/17/17 LSPC meeting, angrily demands that then-Commissioner Lloyd Grafton provide the names of the four (4) members who had agreed to terminate Derbonne if she did not voluntarily resign.

In the preceding video, Grafton emphasizes that the way Derbonne found out she was going to be terminated was by, “people opening their mouths and telling her that she was going to be fired because she was going to be fired!”  According to multiple sources, current LSPC Chairman Eulis Simien, Jr., pulled Derbonne to the side prior to the start of the meeting and point-blank told her, “they have the votes to terminate you.”  As the video points out, Grafton responded to Breaux’s angry demand by stating, “That will come out.”

Any long-time subscriber to this blog is well aware that Derbonne ultimately sued the LSPC for wrongful termination.  Because Derbonne opted to settle her litigation on August 10, 2021, the “gang of four” never came out in open court.  Nevertheless, we believe the public has the right to know the names of the four individuals.  The first is the angry Breaux depicted in the video above demanding that Grafton name the four.  Members two and three of the “gang of four” would be the “afternoon delight couple” of then-Chairman (and Trooper) T. J. Doss and then-Vice Chairperson Monica Manzella.

Sound Off Louisiana‘s founder, Robert Burns, filmed the “afternoon delight” pair of Doss/Manzella not long after a subsequent LSPC meeting both exiting a movie theater and, thereafter, checking into the Watermark Hotel in Baton Rouge.  Let’s take just a few seconds, especially for newer members who likely have never seen these videos, to review those two episodes, shall we?  First, the exit from the movie theater:


Then LSPC Chairman (and LSP Trooper) T. J. Doss, along with Vice Chairperson Monica Manzella, exit the Movie Tavern theater after watching a movie soon after attending an LSPC meeting.

Now the subsequent check-in to the Watermark Hotel in Baton Rouge:


Doss and Manzella check into the swank Watermark Hotel soon after enjoying a movie at Movie Tavern in Baton Rouge soon after an LSPC meeting.

So, there you have three of the four.  The fourth member of the “gang of four” is none other than Gov. Edwards’ $70 million man on the LSPC, Jared Riecke.

So, there are your four members for the world to see!  Quite a motley crew, no?

Now, isn’t it interesting how former LSPC Member Calvin Braxton claims he’s being left out of the loop by then-Chairman (and active Trooper) T. J. Doss, particularly as it pertains to Derbonne.  Unbeknownst to Braxton, who has an existing lawsuit against the Louisiana State Trooper’s Association (LSTA) for defamation, efforts to oust him were well underway and were arguably even more forceful than the LSTA’s calls for Derbonne’s head.  We want to take just a few moments to indicate just how resolved Braxton was to remain on the LSPC.  Here’s just a few seconds of video wherein Braxton makes clear that resolve:


Then-Commissioner Calvin Braxton makes clear his resolve to remain an LSPC member and that he would not resign or quit.

As many long-time subscribers know, soon after Braxton uttered those words, he did “resign.”  At least, that’s what Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office claimed.  Nevertheless, when we made a public records request for Braxton’s resignation letter, all we got was this press release of July 21, 2017 stating that Braxton had “resigned.”  Anybody curious as to just what all Braxton asserts happened?  We can provide a few answers by referring folk to a few pages of Braxton’s June 24, 2019 deposition on the LSTA litigation.  [Note:  Be patient for the file at the preceding link to download as Braxton had a TON to say!].  How about we start with page 84, to wit:

Q. Did you ever resign from any other
board besides the Louisiana State Police?

A. I never resigned from the Louisiana
State Police board.

Or how about page 168 from that same deposition, to wit:

I got a call from Greg Tarver — not  Greg — Senator Greg Tarver saying that he had talked to Mike Edmonson and Jay D., Colonel Jay D. and that he said the governor wanted me to resign.  Come from Greg Tarver.  And I called for the governor, I had his cell phone number, but I didn’t get him. But I called and talked to Mike Edmonson. And Mike indicated to me that the governor wanted me to resign. I said, “Tell him if he want me to resign to give me a call.”

Q. Did you ever get a call from the governor?

A. Got a call from — a few months to come into his office. And I went to his office, sat down and told me that he wasn’t even doing anything with this, that it’s over with.

Q. So you continued on the board?

A. I never —

Q. On the commission?

A. On the commission. I continued before he told me that and I continued after he told me that.

Q. What did the governor tell you?

A. That he was not going to have a hearing, that this was all over with. I went, me and Simien, which is a commissioner now, went with him to — went with me to his office. And that’s what he —

Q.  So actually sat down and spoke to Governor —

A. I spoke to him myself in his office.

Q. — John Bel Edwards?

A. He called me and I went to his office.

Q. And the governor told you he was not going to ask you to resign?

A. That’s right.

Q. And he didn’t ask you to resign?

A. No.

Q. Did you resign eventually from the
board?

A. No.

Q. What happened?

A. I didn’t resign.

Q. I mean, the commission.

A. I didn’t resign from the commission, I never resigned from the board.

Getting interesting?  How about we advance to page 192 of Braxton’s deposition, to wit:

Q. Who wrote this? And I’m talking about the press release dated July 21, 2017 that has as the title “Calvin Braxton.” It’s a very short paragraph by you.

A. From what I’ve been able to determine, that Representative Katrina Jackson wrote this.

Q. Did Katrina Jackson have your permission to write this?

A. No.

Q. When did you find out that you had resigned?

A. When I was in North Carolina when I
got — it hit the news and people started calling
me, telling me that I resigned. That’s the first I
heard of it. I was in North Carolina.

Q. Sir, is it your testimony you did not give Miss Jackson permission to —

A. Exactly. Oh, I’m sorry. Go right ahead.

Q. You did not give Miss Jackson permission to speak to the press on your behalf?

A. No.

Since we’re on a roll, let’s advance to page 194 and 195, to wit:

Q. After you found out that you had resigned, that you say you never gave anybody permission to make on your behalf, what did you do?

A. I never resigned.

Q. What did you do when you found out that someone had resigned on your behalf without your permission?

A. I called her.

Q. And did you ever ask anyone to revoke this resignation?

A. I never sent it. She wrote it. I never asked — I didn’t know about revoking, I — no, because I didn’t authorize her to sign it, so what am I revoking?

Q. Yeah?  Did you have any reaction to Governor Edwards as accepting of your resignation?

A. I respected him, but he was — he knew that I didn’t resign.

Q. Did you speak to Governor Edwards about
this?

A. Senator — Representative Denise Marcelle went to him.

Q. Who’s Denise Marcelle?

A. And — she’s a — Representative Denise Marcelle went to him and told him and say, “Just to give you a heads up, Calvin did not resign off that board.” And I — based on — she told me she went and told him that. Do I know? That’s what she — that’s what I asked her to do.

Q. If you didn’t resign, why didn’t you go to the board itself and say, Look, I didn’t resign, I didn’t anybody permission for me to resign on my behalf, I’m still on the board?

A. You think I’m stupid? What did I just go through? You think I’m going to put — jeopardize myself into that? Go there for what?  To be — news people? No, I didn’t do that. I just kept my mouth closed. I just kept closed and let time do what it do.

So, there’s the story from the “horse’s mouth” about how Braxton went from adamantly stating he would not resign to suddenly soon thereafter  “resigning.”

Let us prepare to conclude this feature by answering a key question Braxton wanted resolved entailing LSPC liability pertaining to Derbonne’s strong-armed resignation.  We are going to do so via a short table from which all numbers are derived from the settlement documentation linked above.  Here’s that table:

Itemized Cost Item for Derbonne v. LSPCDollar Amount of Item
Settlement check to Derbonne (see page 6 of above link of Consolidated Derbonne Settlement Documentation).$86,666.67.
Derbonne Attorney Fees (Jill Craft) Paid as part of settlement (see page 7 of above link of Consolidated Derbonne Settlement Documentation).$43,333.33.
Legal fees to The Kullman law firm in defense of Derbonne's litigation (see pages 8 and 9 of above link of Consolidated Derbonne Settlement Documentation).$54,650.26.
Legal fees paid to Taylor Porter for defense of Derbonne v. LSPC (see pages 10 - 61 of above link of Consolidated Derbonne Settlement Documentation and also see notations from LSPC below).$26,155.00
Conservative estimate of court costs (given appeal to First Circuit and to Louisiana Supreme Court though the SC declined to hear LSPC's appeal of the matter).$12,000.
LSPC funds paid to Gov. Edwards' Super PAC Head, Taylor Townsend, for a written report on matters Derbonne was investigating which he NEVER produced (his contract was for $75,000, but he agreed to a reduced amount).$50,000.
TOTAL$272,805.26.

Now, the LSPC communicated a few items to us for which we believe, if they wanted us to know, they likely wanted to world to know.  Accordingly, we are going to reproduce verbatim correspondence we received as it pertains to the Taylor Porter invoices and the settlement with Derbonne in general.  The commentary on the Taylor Porter invoices is actually contained on page one (1) of the Consolidated Derbonne Settlement Documentation link above.  Here is that commentary:

Please note that the billing in many instances accounts for a combination of legal services provided by our general counsel and the total for any particular line may not be 100% related to the Derbonne lawsuit against the LSPC.

Our response is that it only takes a cursory glance at a few pages of the Taylor Porter invoices linked above to recognize that the items not pertaining to Derbonne aren’t even on the invoices (i.e. they’re the original invoices but with white space for any non-Derbonne matters).  Hence, while there may be some small amount on any given line that is not directly related to the Derbonne lawsuit, in accounting jargon (Sound Off Louisiana’s founder is an inactive CPA), it’s simply not material.  The number in the table above is therefore deemed applicable.

The second commentary was sent via email and, we have no doubt, was likely dictated by LSPC Chairman Eulis Simien, Jr., and merely corresponded to us by its Executive Director Jason Hannaman.  Here’s that correspondence:

The Attorney General represented the state in the lawsuit and the Office of Risk Management authorized any negotiated settlement.  The State Police Commission did not sign off or vote on approval or disapproval of a settlement agreement in the case.

Obviously, the LSPC wants it made clear that this is not a settlement reached on its own but rather by Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office.  We accept that fact without any qualification whatsoever.  So, the LSPC had no say-so entailing the settlement.  Point stipulated to.  They had one heck of a truckload of say-so regarding whether the suit ever had to be filed in the first place though, no?

Now, our repeated efforts to have Derbonne on camera or at least to comment on the settlement were professionally and courteously declined.  Nevertheless, we reached out to a number of sources trying to ascertain how the settlement figure was derived.  We finally found one individual with integral knowledge of the matter who was willing to reveal to us that the logic used for the settlement figure was that Derbonne required six (6) months to obtain other employment.  The goal was therefore for her to receive six months of her LSPC pay under the premise that, since she’d procured other employment after that six months, she was essentially on her own from that point on.

We can certainly understand Derbonne’s desire to place this whole episode behind her and, from our perspective, it certainly is now except for us using it to argue not only against the LSPC’s repeated requests for a part-time investigator (which could have been funded for 6-8 years with the money flushed down the toilet in the table above) but also to prove the political-hack nature of the LSPC.

If anyone needs further proof beyond the disgraceful 11-minute video with which we began this feature to prove the LSPC is an abject failure at having any usefulness whatsoever and is a complete and total political animal, let’s consider the 10th item contained in the Derbonne Settlement Agreement (see page 65 of the Derbonne Consolidated Settlement Documentation linked above).  Here’s that item:

10. Derbonne waives any right of reinstatement to, or employment or re-employment with the Commission. If Derbonne applies for work, or reapplies for work, in the future with the Commission, then this Agreement will be a sufficient reason, by itself, for her not
to be hired or re-hired.

WOW!!  Do we really need to say any more, folks?!  So, someone who would possess the skills and knowledge to serve as the investigator the LSPC seeks is 100 percent, T-totally ineligible!!

Now, for the next LSPC meeting, the venue will be a Senate Committee meeting room (E).  From the preceding link:

The next regular business meeting of the State Police Commission will be held on Thursday, December 16, 2021, at 9:00 A.M. in Senate Committee Room E, Louisiana State Capitol Building, 900 N. Third Street, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70802.

Presumably, this next meeting will be coordinated with the first meeting of the Louisiana Senate Select Committee on LSP Oversight.  We would recommend each member of that Committee review this feature to see why, as former LSPC Commission Member Lloyd Grafton states, “LSP has no oversight!”  We believe more true words have never been spoken in anyone’s life!

If those Louisiana Senators truly want to enact meaningful reform to clean up the insidious cancer that now is LSP, here’s the first two actions that need to transpire:

  1.  Abolish the LSPC and revert to at-will employment.  After all, the Louisiana State Trooper’s Association (LSTA) is so jealous of the political influence of the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association (LSA) that they are suing the LSPC to enable it to be able to make political contributions just like the LSA (though Sound Off Louisiana seems to be the only media outlet which ever covers that lawsuit).  The problem?  The LSTA wants to have its cake and eat it too.  They want LSP’s Civil Service protection to remain (Sheriffs can hire and fire at will) but have the same luxuries as the LSA.  The simple solution is to dissolve the LSPC, end Civil Service protection for LSP Troopers, and tell them, “start writing checks to politicians until your heart’s content!”
  2. Enact a Louisiana Statue to permit the Colonel of State Police to be hired from outside of the agency.  Whichever candidate for Governor in 2023 commits to hire such an outsider to clean up the abject disaster that is LSP right now will win in a landslide!  Louisiana citizens from every walk of life (rich, poor, white, black, male, female, young, old) are way beyond fed up with LSP’s corruption, coverups, lack of accountability, and in general giving Louisiana a black eye from its past (and quite likely current) piss-poor leadership which is a direct result of the existing Louisiana Statute requiring that an LSP Colonel come from within its own ranks.  The culture of corruption is so massive that it simply isn’t possible to find anyone from within LSP’s ranks willing to clean the mess up.  Furthermore, even if it were possible to find such an individual, the Civil Service protection referenced in # 1 makes it an impossible task!

Now, we want to finish this feature by stating one thing:  The staff at the LSPC, from Executive Director Jason Hannaman down (and it’s not a large staff by any means) have exhibited nothing but professionalism and courtesy to us.  We believe that they are top-notch employees.  It’s certainly not their faults that the LSPC is the abject disaster that it is.  In recommending abolishing the LSPC and Civil Service protection for LSP Troopers, it would be our  hope and expectations that other employment opportunities could be provided for the staff at the LSPC within other agencies of Louisiana State government.  It’s long past time, however, that this disgraceful entity which has brought embarrassment and shame to every Louisiana citizen in this state be abolished.  We hope sentiments along those line are voiced at the upcoming LSPC meeting on December 16, 2021 in Senate Committee Room E!

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