Vice president of Baton Rouge Police Union sues BRPD
BATON ROUGE - The vice president of the Baton Rouge Police Union, Siya Creel, filed a lawsuit against the City of Baton Rouge and the Baton Rouge Police Department Friday alleging his rights were violated.
In the lawsuit, filed in district court Friday, Creel alleges his free-speech rights were violated after he was placed on leave for doing an interview about union billboards with a "media blogger."
Creel was investigated for conduct unbecoming an officer, unauthorized statements, and alleged violation of the social media policy. On Nov. 12, Creel attended a pre-disciplinary hearing with Chief Murphy Paul and command staff at BRPD. The lawsuit states he asked to go on sick leave to undergo treatments for cancer.
"Defendants then pronounced petitioner 'guilty' of allegedly violating the BRPD 'media policy' because Petitioner gave the interview to media regarding union activities," the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit says one day after Creel began his treatments, BRPD began contacting him attempting to retrieve his "badge, gun, computer and all BRPD-issued equipment."
On Dec. 1, Creel returned to work from his sick leave, and Internal Affairs removed all of his BRPD-issued equipment and informed him he was placed on leave.
The lawsuit states Creel's rights of free speech have been violated. It was filed by Attorney Jill Craft and allotted to Judge Tim Kelley.
We reached out to Baton Rouge Police.
Police Chief Murphy Paul said, "The Baton Rouge Police Department has complete and total respect for the First Amendment rights of every citizen in our community. This includes every member of our department. Having said that, we will not speak on an administrative investigation."
The International Association of Police Union released the following statement:
"The International Union of Police Associations has been made aware of a lawsuit filed in state court today against the City of Baton Rouge/Baton Rouge Police Department and the Chief of Police in regard to Officer Siya Creel and his duties as Vice President of the Baton Rouge Union of Police.
The allegations in the lawsuit are disturbing. The lawsuit alleges that the Baton Rouge Police Department and Chief of Police have violated Mr. Creel's right of Free Speech and Association under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution (and Louisiana Constitution Article 1, Sections 7 and 9) for speaking in his capacity as an elected union official in regard to union matters of public concern. As this case moves forward, we will use all resources possible to assure his rights are protected.
An E.E.O.C. complaint has also been filed on behalf of Officer Creel. The details of that complaint will be forthcoming.
The International Union of Police Associations is working with local attorneys in protecting officers from a Chief of Police who is seemingly dedicated to silencing police union leadership.
President Sam A. Cabral of the International Union of Police Associations commented on the suit, "A Chief of Police is, or should be, well aware of the Constitutional Rights of his employees and should be dedicated to preserving and respecting them. Ignoring their First Amendment Rights is a terrible example to set for the men and women he is paid to lead."
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