March 31, 2016 file photo of Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal, center, leaving the U.S. District Courthouse in Lafayette, La., after being arraigned as part of an ongoing U.S. Justice Department Civil Rights Division investigation of the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office. A federal jury in Shreveport, Louisiana ultimately acquitted Ackal of ordering the beatings of prisoners in a jail’s chapel and orchestrating a cover-up that included the burning of files and lying under oath. Ackal is accompanied by then-Iberia Parish Sheriff Deputy (now LSP Trooper) Scott Lopez. Lopez, who admits to “politicking for Louis Ackal,” according to Sound Off Louisiana sources, served as Ackal’s right-hand-man during his tenure with Ackal, which ran from September 24, 2015 through March 10, 2017, after which Lopez returned to LSP. (Photo Courtesy of Duane Fatherree/The Daily Iberian via AP File).
We’re taking a few moments to update everyone on the travails of Billy Broussard and his interactions with Louisiana State Police (LSP) Trooper Scott Lopez.
On Wednesday, May 25, 2022 (after Broussard personally went to LSP Internal Affairs on Monday, May 23, 2022 requesting to receive correspondence regarding his complaints against Lopez), newly-installed Captain of Internal Affairs, Saleem El-Amin, mailed this letter sustaining Broussard’s claim that Lopez failed to activate his body-worn camera on June 14, 2021.
We will point out that Broussard lodged no other formal charge against Lopez pertaining to the June 14, 2021 incident, but he did emphasize that, according to Broussard’s driver, who was the one actually pulled over, Lopez allegedly said, “You better not pass in front of my home again if you know what’s good for you.” Broussard did include other narrative in his complaint against Lopez that dealt with his ongoing travails with Lopez and St. Martin Parish officials, most notably Parish President Chester Cedars. Let’s replicate the narrative of El-Amin’s letter at this time:
A thorough investigation (N21-078) was conducted as a result of your complaint regarding the incident which occurred on June 14, 2021.
It was determined that your allegation of Courtesy against TFC Lopez is Not Sustained. This disposition is defined as: there is insufficient evidence to prove or disprove the allegation.
It was determined that your allegation of Conduct Unbecoming an Officer against TFC Lopez is unfounded. This disposition is defined as: the allegation is false, not factual.
It was determined that your allegation of Badge of Office against TFC Lopez is Unfounded. This disposition is defined as: the allegation is false, not factual.
It was determined that your allegation of Body Worn Camera against TFC Lopez is Sustained. This disposition is defined as: the allegation is supported by sufficient evidence.
Broussard is certainly pleased that the charge of failing to activate the body-worn camera was sustained. Moreover, he has indicated that his advice to any motorist or non-motorist is that, if interacting with a law-enforcement officer under any circumstances other than casual friendly conversation, activate your own cell phone camera to substantiate what happened. Broussard notes the irony of not being able to sustain Courtesy and Conduct Unbecoming because of Lopez having failed to activate his body-worn camera. Hence, Broussard’s guidance to others faced with similar circumstances (i.e. turn the cell phone video on immediately).
Broussard was even more pleased with a separate letter, also dated May 25, 2022, from El-Amin sustaining Broussard’s allegation of Conduct Unbecoming entailing statements Lopez made to the St. Martin Parish Planning and Zoning Commission on January 6, 2022.
Obviously, in this instance, Broussard was able to provide the video evidence of Lopez’s actions and words rather than having to rely upon LSP to have its own video. Being blunt, we don’t see how LSP could have arrived at any other conclusion than Lopez having most definitely engaged in Conduct Unbecoming of a LSP Trooper. We’ll provide that video evidence that Broussard submitted to LSP Internal Affairs again at this time:
1/6/22 Lopez appearance before the St. Martin Parish Planning and Zoning Commission for which LSP Internal Affairs has now sustained a charge by Billy Broussard that Lopez engaged in Conduct Unbecoming an LSP Trooper.
Lopez will now have the right to appeal either or both of the decisions handed down to him, together with any penalty imposed upon him (any discipline handed down by LSP Col. Lamar Davis is not yet public) to the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC). Should he do so, we will obviously be there to videotape either or both appeal hearings.
Interestingly enough, on the very same day El-Amin issued his letters to Broussard, the LSPC began to gear up to actually “declassify” Letters of Reprimand to NOT be a form of discipline. From the just-linked circular:
Proposed additions appear in blue and omissions appear in red.
Disciplinary Actions – include only the following: dismissals, suspensions without pay, reductions in pay, and involuntary demotions and written reprimands.
Clearly, we are not pleased at all with this proposed change! In fairness, Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns received a telephone call from LSPC Executive Director Jason Hannaman on Friday, May 27, 2022 at approximately 2:00 p.m. Hannaman was concerned that Burns may get word of the proposal (he was correct as we’d gotten word mere hours after the proposed circular was uploaded) and wanted Burns to know that, “this is completely my doing.”
Hannaman explained his rationale as being that it takes just as much time and manhours for an appeal of a termination as it does for a Letter of Reprimand, and Hannaman does not view that as being very efficient. Hannaman doesn’t believe it makes much sense to appeal, “a piece of paper.”
Hannaman further emphasized his contention that, from his vantage point, there is no “depravation of benefit” a trooper receives when he receives a Letter of Reprimand (i.e. no demotion, no lost pay for a given period, etc.) He also stressed that Civil Service for other state employees (Hannaman came from Louisiana State Civil Service before accepting the LSPC Executive Director position) does not even have an option of a Letter of Reprimand, and that is a unique discipline applicable only to LSP.
Burns countered that, from his vantage point, this proposed change is merely another mechanism for LSP to conceal serious problems from public oversight and review since, just as with the Letters of Counseling (which are already deemed not discipline and therefore not “considered” public record, which is the whole issue at hand in Sound Off Louisiana current litigation against LSP), Letters of Reprimand will no doubt be “declared” to “not be considered” public record!
Burns also stressed to Hannaman that he’s not so sure there is no “depravation of benefit” because he contends that Letters of Reprimand may impede a trooper’s future prospects for promotion. Hence, while there may be no immediate tangible “depravation of benefit,” such letters may have, and some may argue are quite likely to have, a future adverse impact.
Burns also emphasized that troopers themselves may oppose this initiative because LSP managers may deem discipline to be required and, absent the Letter of Reprimand, may tell troopers, “Look, I hate to do this, but I’m going to have to issue a one-day suspension because the Letter of Reprimand avenue is no longer available to me. Sorry.” Hannaman conceded that could be a negative consequence of his proposed action.
Hannaman seemed extremely frustrated entailing all of the work that went into the LSPC’s most recent appeal hearing entailing former LSP Sergeant Albert Paxton’s appeal wherein his own Letter of Reprimand was overturned. Burns countered, “Would you not agree that Letter of Reprimand should never have been issued in the first place?” Hannaman had no comeback for that one.
Whatever the case, Sound Off Louisiana certainly intends to incorporate the documents contained in this feature in our Brief for the upcoming court hearing on June 20, 2022 entailing our efforts to procure Trooper Scott Lopez’s two Letters of Counseling which entail past incidents and are in no way related to the most recent actions entailing Broussard. Once we have completed the Brief, we’ll publish a feature drawing attention to our points of emphasis in that Brief.
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