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$35,000 settlement

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BATON ROUGE - A woman who claims she was at the end of a witch hunt orchestrated by the mayor and police department will be paid $35,000 in a settlement deal reached with the city-parish.

Wednesday, the Metro Council agreed to the deal after Kim McCants sued.

McCants filed a lawsuit against the department, the city-parish government, and police officers - including Police Chief Carl Dabadie and a detective - in February.  McCants said in court documents her phone was taken early in the morning on March 26, 2013, to embarrass her and former police chief Dewayne White.

White was fired by the mayor's office on February 18, 2013, in what became a public spat between both Mayor Kip Holden and the ousted chief.

After attempting to get a search warrant for McCants' phone from a judge, Detective "Mack" Thomas was able to get clearance from a 19th JDC Commissioner to obtain the phone. The lawsuit said Thomas sold the warrant as part of a criminal investigation into White's missing city-parish cell phone that was reported stolen after he was fired and it was not returned immediately.

The court documents suggest the mayor's office told Thomas to launch an investigation into "every aspect of Mr. White's life, including into his personal life." McCants believes investigators discovered a past relationship she had with the fired chief and was told to obtain evidence to release to the public for the "sole purpose of embarrassing" White.

McCants' lawyer, Jill Craft, says this whole ordeal could have been avoided.

"Anytime somebody stands up like Kim McCants did, and certainly Chief White before her, you know, they're going to get peppered with arrows and slingshots and anything else anybody can come up with," said Craft. "At the end of the day, I always have hope that justice is going to prevail and the right thing is going to be done."

All council members were in agreement of the settlement, except Councilman John Delgado.  Delgado voted "no" because, he says, the police department's actions were warranted.

"I didn't feel like it was worthy to pay her $35,000 of taxpayer money when I think we could have successfully proved in court that we have no liability to this person," he said.

The mayor's office did not wish to comment.

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