A Shreveport Police Department detective’s bid to stay a transfer from his job to night patrolman was denied this morning in Caddo District Court.
SPD Detective Rod Demery on Monday filed a civil lawsuit against SPD Chief Willie Shaw individually and as Chief claiming he was arbitrarily transferred from his position as a detective. The suit alleges the transfer was in retaliation for investigating Shaw and top SPD officers in connection with alleged crimes committed at the Shreveport Fire Department’s Station No. 8.
The lawsuit also asked for a temporary restraining order (TRO) be put in place, as the transfer was to become effective today. A TRO would prevented the transfer until the lawsuit could be heard in court.
Shaw was served with the lawsuit Wednesday, and his attorneys hastily prepared a motion to dissolve Demery’s TRO, got it to the courthouse in time to get an emergency setting on today’s Court docket.
The matter was taken up by Judge Joe Bleich, a retired former district and Louisiana supreme court judge, who agreed to hear the case after all Caddo’s Civil Court judges recused themselves.
Bleich lifted the TRO, allowing Police Chief Willie Shaw to move Demery to night patrol, but was quick to say dissolving the TRO had nothing to do with how he might rule on the case itself.
The lawsuit alleges the transfer came in the same day a witness came forward with more information in regard to the investigation of the SFD Station No. 8 scandal. The witness reportedly told Demery that Shaw had prior knowledge of the scandal, but withheld it from Demery.
Michael Carter, president of Shreveport Police Officer's Association, said it’s questionable “for someone to be transferred, or demoted, or put out of a position, because of political upheaval inside the administration….Wouldn't you love to have the job to where if you became a suspect in a criminal investigation, you just transfer the investigator?"
Shaw's lawyer, Edwin Byrd, argued the transfer was routine and would not cause irreparable harm to Demery, since he'll have the same pay and rank. Carter disagreed, as there are only eight detectives, out of 500 Shreveport police officers.
Demery is the only SPD officer investigating the Fire Station No. 8 scandal, working with the Louisiana State Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation. His attorney, Pam Breedlove, argued that removing him from the detective's unit would harm the case, and his current investigation into possible corruption within the Shreveport police department.
This morning’s hearing did not involve evidence or witnesses, but next week, the case is on Bleich’s docket at 9:30 a.m. Thursday (August 28, 2014), the exact time and day the firefighters accused of being principals to prostitution are on Judge Ramona Emanuel’s criminal docket.
NBC 6 has a crew in the courtroom and will bring you the latest as the story develops.