LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — A Lafayette Police officer is suing his bosses in federal court over alleged retaliation for posting material on a police union Facebook page.
The entire lawsuit can be read below. A lawsuit only tells one side of a story.
David Stanley, the former president of the Police Association of Lafayette Local #905 (PAL), has sued the Lafayette Consolidated government, current interim Police Chief Monte Potier and former police chiefs Scott Morgan, Wayne Griffin and Thomas Glover over what the lawsuit says are First Amendment rights.
The issue stems from a post on the PAL’s Facebook page on May 15, 2020. The post includes a minute-long video criticizing a bill that allowed police departments in Broussard, Carencro, Scott, and Youngsville to change the way they fill certain positions. The bill eventually passed the legislature and was signed into law by Gov. John Bel Edwards as Act No. 196 (formerly HB 577) in 2020.
In the lawsuit, Stanley’s attorneys claim he posted the video while off-duty in his position as union president. He first posted it to a private Facebook group containing union members, who voted over a three-day period on whether or not to post the video publicly on May 15. On May 18, Stanley also posted about a traffic stop that turned into a drug bust on I-10.
On May 22, 2020, Stanley was informed that he was under investigation by Internal Affairs for “violations of the LPD social media policies, public information and media relations policies, and public statements and news relations policies,” according to the suit. Former Police Chief Scott Morgan then suspended Stanley for 14 days. Stanley, however, had taken medical leave from Aug. 17, 2020 to June 11, 2021 due to “extreme emotional duress as a result of LPD’s retaliatory actions against him,” according to the suit.
Stanley did not actually serve his suspension until his return in June 2021.
The suit also alleges that Stanley was “demoted,” being transferred from the K-9 division to uniform patrol. Stanley did not lose rank, however, and remained a corporal.
The suit also alleges that the city originally claimed to transfer Stanley to uniform patrol due to mental health issues:
At the time of Stanley’s notification of transfer, he had sought counseling services for a mental health issue. Stanley had also not worked in more than a month. During Stanley’s absence-which at the time had no end in sight- LPD was left with one less K-9 on his shift. Such placed a burden on LPD. Further, because Stanley was receiving mental health treatment, an issue with his fitness for duty as a K-9 officer becomes a concern. Typically, K-9 units are regularly placed in dangerous and high-stress environments, which may include searches for suspects or drug interdiction in potentially hostile environments. This position created the likelihood of Stanley being placed in more high-stress situations than other officers. It could become a safety issue for both him and the other officers if his anxiety flares up while in a high-stress situation.”Page 8 of the lawsuit
The lawsuit also claims that Morgan changed the reasoning for Stanley’s transfer during a hearing before the Lafayette Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service board on Feb. 9 of this year. “…Morgan swerved, claiming that Stanley was transferred from K-9 into Uniform Patrol for political reasons and not because of mental illness,” states the lawsuit. “Morgan instead claimed he perceived friction against Stanley from police chiefs outside of the Lafayette area because those same police chiefs opposed PAL’s position on HB 577.”
While the civil service board sided with the police chief, they did reduce Stanley’s suspension to three days.
Stanley has served on the Lafayette Police force since 2009. He was president of PAL from June 2019 through July 2020.