- Associated Press - Sunday, September 21, 2014

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - Former police officers whose federal lawsuit alleging corruption and retaliation in the Lafayette Police Department was dismissed in August have filed an appeal.

The 15 plaintiffs appealed the judgment to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, about a month after U.S. District Judge Richard Haik dismissed all claims against Lafayette Consolidated Government, the Police Department, Chief Administrative Officer Dee Stanley, Police Chief Jim Craft and retired police commander George “Jackie” Alfred.

The Advertiser reported (https://bit.ly/1qLugMb) the lawsuit alleged widespread misconduct within the department, that Craft and others in authority maintained a “code of silence” and retaliated against officers who reported inappropriate behavior of fellow officers, especially officers close to those in charge.

Haik dismissed the case under the theory of qualified immunity after the discovery process was completed, said Chris Alexander, a Baton Rouge attorney representing the police officers. That means Haik believed the Police Department acted with “objective reasonableness” in its treatment of the officers, he wrote.

One plaintiff, Nolvey Stelly, was fired in December 2013 after Craft determined his complaint that Lt. Dwayne Prejean was guilty of drinking and driving was “unfounded.” According to administrative documents, Stelly issued a formal complaint about the lieutenant driving while intoxicated and claimed he had surveillance video as proof.

Because Stelly would not reveal the identity of the person who supplied him the video - which Craft said “appears to have possibly (been) edited” and could not prove Prejean was “impaired” - the police chief said Stelly violated three general orders of conduct and fired him.

Craft also said Stelly may have violated state law on filing a false complaint against a law enforcement officer.

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Information from: The Advertiser, https://www.theadvertiser.com

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