Courier Journal appeals Aubrey Gregory’s decision in Louisville
The Louisville Metro government claims that an investigation into the demotion of a police major did not contain a written report or recommendation and refused to release notes from the human resources investigator.
Now The Courier Journal is appealing to the Attorney General and a Metro Council committee is due to consider the matter at a hearing on Tuesday.
Attorney Michael Abate, who represents the Courier Journal, said he was concerned about the city’s dealings with the then Maj. The Aubrey Gregory case signals a “new era” in which authorities are avoiding transparency “simply by ignoring them Create records “.
Gregory was demoted to lieutenant in June by Chief Erika Shields, who wrote in a letter in the Courier Journal that Gregory used “inappropriate and offensive language”.
According to his lawyer Thomas Clay, he now wants to resign on July 31.
The incident remains secret, however, as Shield’s letter to Gregory did not provide details about the nature of the incident, including the language or context used. And officials claim that there are no relevant records describing such findings, including the notes of the investigator who conducted the investigation.
The law has made it clear for decades that after an internal investigation is completed, the public will be entitled to the records that form the basis of a disciplinary decision, Abate said.
LMPD has fought this practice for 40 years. That seemed to change in April when Mayor Greg Fischer announced the city Beginning of the full release of completed investigation files for cases of employee misconduct.
But the Gregory inquiry, wrote Abate and his lawyers Jon Fleischaker and Rick Adams, appears to be “a deliberate step in the opposite direction, perhaps to avoid the ramifications of the mayor’s newly announced policies”.
“Practically the first chance we got off the bat, we’ve come across an investigation that appears they went out of their way not to keep records so that there was nothing to disclose in the end,” Abate told The Courier Diary Monday.
Police have not explained why the Professional Standards Unit, which investigates potential policy violations, was bypassed, nor did officials explain why no record was made, the written appeal said.
“This leaves the public with the unfortunate impression that LMPD took these measures specifically to avoid creating records that would later have to be disclosed,” the written appeal said.
The timing – “on the heels” of Fischer’s announcement – raises “real questions” as to why the city was doing this and who made the decision to do so, Abate added.
Shields and Metro Human Resources Director Ernestine Booth-Henry are expected to answer questions about the Gregory investigation at a government oversight and accountability committee meeting at 5 p.m., Council President David James said.
James, a former narcotics officer and FOP president, said this is the first time LMPD has used human resources to investigate a police officer’s behavior.
“We need to understand what the government’s motivations were, especially when we’ve had all these discussions about transparency,” he said.
Attorneys for The Courier Journal allege in the written complaint that city officials are unable to state that the Gregory investigation records were the only records made and then state that those records were not used to make a final decision.
“It would be really shocking to learn that an LMPD major can only be downgraded from one of the highest ranks in the department based on unfounded hearsay and rumors,” the written appeal said.
“If these notes are indeed the only existing records of the Gregory investigation, they have lost their preliminary status and should be released immediately.”
In response to an inquiry about the Courier Journal records, the city wrote that Metro Human Resources “orally shared with LMPD the information obtained during the factual investigation” and that “did not prepare a final report or memorandum detailing the investigation or make recommendations were “.
It is not clear why Human Resources conducted a “factual truth and context investigation” into the allegation rather than fully investigating an employee’s alleged wrongdoing. It is also unclear why the decision was made to provide the results orally rather than in writing.
Jean Porter, a spokeswoman for Mayor Greg Fischer’s office, told the Courier Journal in June that a human resources officer was conducting the investigation “because we wanted to address any concerns that the LMPD is investigating one of its own commanders.”
But Porter didn’t respond directly to questions about why this wasn’t a full investigation or whether the public deserves to know the full context of Gregory’s language.
The Police Bill of Rights in state law and the police treaty stipulates that charges of violating the guidelines must be filed in writing and that authorities hold a hearing before action is taken against an officer.
The union contract goes further and requires recorded testimony from officials, complainants and witnesses.
If the city had not complied with these legal obligations, it could have violated Gregory’s due process rights, lawyers told the Courier Journal, and officials must explain why the Metro government is unable to produce these records.
“The public has the right to know whether LMPD is taking steps to avoid creating records that would otherwise show the public the facts – and not just the result – of their investigations,” the appeal said.
Regarding the investigator’s notes, which the city called “reminders”, lawyers argued that it was not appropriate to request a temporary exemption. The records would become final if disciplinary action – such as a downgrade – is taken.
“Here they took action against this officer. Whatever it was, it was not an informal investigation,” Abate said. “It was a disciplinary case.”
Darcy Costello: 502-582-4834; [email protected]; Twitter: @dctello.