State Police whistleblower fired for criticizing department appeals termination
BATON ROUGE- It's been nearly three years since Ronald Greene died in Louisiana State Police custody, and the agency has not fired anyone for his death or the subsequent cover-up. But the organization did fire the trooper who blew the whistle on it.
Trooper Carl Cavalier formally appealed his termination Tuesday, 24 hours after State Police fired him.
Last June, Cavalier sat down with the WBRZ Investigative Unit to talk about what was going on at his place of employment. During the interview, Cavalier brought a portion of Trooper Albert Paxton's notes which detailed a cover-up tied to the death of Ronald Greene.
Greene led troopers on a high-speed chase through the Monroe area before he was stopped. When he exited his vehicle, he was alive and apologizing. That's when body camera videos, which leaked two years after his death, show he was brutally beaten.
Cavalier was fired Monday. State Police cited the WBRZ interview, his lack of "loyalty" to the department, making public statements and dissemination of information.
"The message it sends is you can kill somebody, right, commit horrific acts—what the governor calls criminal acts—nothing will happen to you," Attorney Jill Craft said. "But, the guy who says the emperor has no clothes... you're fired."
Tuesday, Governor John Bel Edwards held a news conference distancing himself from the Greene case. During that news conference he said he had nothing to do with the cover-up.
WBRZ asked the governor how Cavalier could be fired for being a whistleblower while other troopers tied to the cover-up of the Greene case are still employed. In one particular case, Lt. John Clary lied about having body camera videos. However, his videos were discovered later and he was never disciplined because State Police said they could not substantiate the lie.
"Well first of all, I'm going to refer you to Colonel Davis who has the latest on that information," Edwards said when asked about Cavalier's termination. "What I will tell you is that it's my understanding that Lt. Clary's videos were uploaded to the system and for whatever reason it was not found by the investigator."
That is not entirely correct. On the day Greene was killed, Clary uploaded his videos into the system but then told the investigator he had no body camera video, according to reports from State Police.
Craft says State Police violated its own policies by not following procedure and terminating Cavalier within 60 days of the alleged offense. She also said his termination violates his rights.
"What it tells the public is exactly why First Amendment retaliation is against the law," Craft said. "What it does is it stifles and chills the speech of legitimate patriots who are willing to stand up and say, 'this is wrong. This is what happened. I'll call it out.' Instead, you reward people who are engaged in bad behavior."
State Police issued the following response to WBRZ's questions about the discrepancies.
Trooper Carl Cavalier:
· Trooper Cavalier received notice of his termination on Monday January 31, 2022 for violations of the Public Statements policy, Lawful Orders policy, Loyalty to the Department policy, Dissemination of Information policy, Seeking Publicity policy, and Conduct Unbecoming policy.
· Our department's policies and procedures are in place to ensure accountability and professionalism by all employees
· All employees of the Department of Public Safety are required to adhere to our policies
· The investigation into the Greene incident began the same day of the incident by our LSP Investigators and remains ongoing with state and federal investigators
· Cavalier was not involved in the Greene investigation
· All of the case files had been provided to the DOJ by the DA on 09/09/19; prior to Cavalier communicating with the media
· Cavalier initiated several complaints against departmental personnel. Each complaint has been thoroughly investigated by Internal Affairs and all have been unfounded.
Lieutenant John Clary:
· An internal investigation revealed Clary logged and submitted the videos in accordance with LSP policy on May 10, 2019 at 0405 hours
· The omission of the videos from the original BOI case report was corrected in the supplemental report delivered to reviewing authorities on 05/07/21
· The administrative investigation was closed in July of 2021 with a finding of Not Sustained due to insufficient evidence to prove or disprove the allegation that Clary intentional withheld the video evidence
· This was due to having received no additional physical evidence and having received conflicting accounts of what transpired
· No discipline was delivered as a result of the investigation
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