SHREVEPORT, La. -- The City of Shreveport is appealing a decision by the local civil service board to reinstate three police officers who were fired earlier this year for forging sick leave forms and getting paid when they were not ill.
A Police Department investigation concluded that, early in the coronavirus outbreak this past spring, five healthy officers decided to start taking paid sick leave. Investigators said the officers created bogus doctor’s excuse forms, including some from a clinic that was closed. Three officers wound up being fired and two others resigned.
Officers Rickey Daughtrey, LaDarious Ford and Deonquanita Smith appealed their firings by Police Chief Ben Raymond. The Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board this week overturned the firings and also ordered the three reinstated with back pay to when they were initially suspended without pay in May. Some board members said the officers deserved to be fired but the police chief made “procedural” errors by suspending them without pay and then firing them, therefore imposing two disciplinary actions.
No criminal charges were filed against any of the officers. Caddo District Attorney James Stewart took the position it was a personnel matter, not a crime. Raymond disagreed, saying the officers ought to be prosecuted.
One of the officers had been submitting fraudulent doctor’s excuse since 2018 and had received more than $9,000 in sick pay, investigators said.
In its appeal of the Civil Service Board’s decision, the city has asked a Caddo District Court judge to overturn the board’s decision to reinstate the three officers.
The Civil Service Board, which has civilian members and representatives from the police and fire departments, voted 4-2 to reinstate the officers.
The district attorney and police chief have different interpretations of what led to criminal charges not being filed.
“They (the Police Department administration) did submit a file for review,” Stewart said, “They made a verbal request for us to defer to their administrative process, which ultimately we did.”
Raymond said his administration deferred to a general request from the D.A.’s office to submit cases against police officers to prosecutors for review before charges are filed.
“Going forward, our investigators and officers will make probable cause arrests when the situation warrants,” Raymond said.
Stewart said he has changed his office’s policy on criminal investigations of police officers.
“They have to clear any internal investigations that they want to submit to us with the city attorney to certify that this is something they actually want us to go forward with a criminal charge," Stewart said.