The gist: Former interim Lafayette Police Chief Wayne Griffin, who was fired from the department last week after a sexual harassment investigation, will appeal his termination, his attorney confirmed.
Get caught up, quickly. Two weeks after he was named interim chief on Oct. 7, Griffin was placed on administrative leave with pay amid a sexual harassment complaint involving a fellow officer. On Oct. 21, LCG announced a complaint had been filed that day and that its Human Resources Department would immediately launch an investigation into the allegations “in coordination with the Lafayette Police Department’s Internal Affairs.” After the investigation was completed, Griffin was fired.
“[T]he discipline rendered is without just cause and in bad faith,” attorney Allyson Melancon said in a statement to The Current. Melancon also said actions undertaken during the sexual harassment investigation as well as the subsequent discipline violated state law, specifically the rights of law enforcement officers while under investigation. She did not detail those alleged violations.
It remains unclear whether Griffin was fired for sexual harassment. The Acadiana Advocate was first to note the planned appeal Tuesday and reported that two of its unnamed sources confirmed that the longtime officer “was fired amid the sexual [harassment] allegations and for lying during the investigation.” The Current could not independently verify the reason for Griffin’s termination. Both LCG and Griffin’s attorney declined to produce copies of the termination letter. The administration has also refused to produce records from the investigation, citing a potential appeal.
Griffin had been tapped as the department’s next chief after Mayor-President Josh Guillory fired Chief Thomas Glover, who is also appealing his termination. His hearing before the Lafayette Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board is set for Feb. 9.
The Lafayette Police Department has had five chiefs in two years. Griffin was a finalist in contention with Glover for the job last year. At the time, he was SWAT commander and a former public information officer who had been with the department for nearly two decades.
Read a timeline of the revolving chief’s door here.
LCG did not deliver the termination news directly to Griffin. Melancon said in the statement that she received hand-delivered correspondence from Assistant City-Parish Attorney Michael Corry on Jan. 21 with a separate letter addressed to Griffin and signed by Maj. Monte Potier, who has been serving as acting chief since Griffin was placed on administrative leave. Melancon said she turned the termination letter over to Griffin the day she received it.
Griffin has 15 days from the date he received the letter to file his appeal. If the appeal is successful, Griffin will ask for immediate reinstatement as a sergeant and request back pay and attorney’s fees, Melancon wrote.