FROM CITY CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION ORLEANS NO. 7973
CHESTER THEODORE ALPAUGH III CLAUDE A. SCHLESINGER GUSTE
BARNETT SCHLESINGER HENDERSON & ALPAUGH, L.L.P. COUNSEL
R. WILLIAMS Assistant City Attorney ELIZABETH ROBINS
Assistant City Attorney CHERRELL S. TAPLIN Senior Chief
Deputy City Attorney REBECCA H. DIETZ City Attorney of New
Orleans, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE.
composed of Chief Judge James F. McKay III, Judge Edwin A.
Lombard, Judge Marion F. Edwards, Pro Tempore.
F. MCKAY III CHIEF JUDGE.
Irma Regis ("Sgt. Regis") seeks review of the
decision of the Civil Service Commission ("CSC"),
denying her appeal of the discipline imposed by the New
Orleans Police Department ("NOPD"). For the reasons
set forth below, we affirm in part and reverse in part.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKROUND
time of the actions that form the basis for the complaint,
Sgt. Regis was employed by the NOPD as a police officer with
permanent status. On March 21, 2011, Officer Lawrence Fortuna
("Officer Fortuna") conducted a traffic stop that
resulted in the arrest of the driver. Officer Fortuna
maintains that the subject could not produce a driver's
license, so he was ordered out of the car. Upon exiting the
vehicle, Officer Fortuna claims that the subject pushed him
and ran from the scene. After a brief chase, Officer Fortuna
brought the subject to the ground and handcuffed him. Officer
Jamal Kendrick ("Officer Kendrick") was also on the
scene, and witnessed the incident.
Fortuna brought the subject to the station, where he began
preparing the gist of the incident. Because Officer Fortuna
was a relatively new officer, he enlisted the help of
Sergeant Michael Stalbert ("Sgt. Stalbert"),
Officer Kendrick, and Officer Marsha Thompson ("Officer
Thompson"). Initially, the gist included charges for
firearm violations, resisting arrest, and battery on a police
officer. The narrative of the gist stated that when the
subject fled the scene, a brief struggle ensued. Officer
Fortuna presented the gist to Sgt. Regis for her signature.
However, according to Officer Fortuna, Sgt. Regis refused to
sign the gist and instructed him to remove the battery on a
police officer charge and any mention of the struggle.
Officer Fortuna complied, and Sgt. Regis signed the amended
following day, Officer Fortuna informed Sergeant Kristi
Bagneris ("Sgt. Bagneris") that Sgt. Regis had
instructed him to remove information from the gist. Sgt.
Bagneris instructed Officer Fortuna to write a second report,
and add back the charge relative to battery on a police
officer. Officer Fortuna prepared the second gist, which
included the battery on a police officer charge and a
description of the physical altercation between the subject
and Officer Fortuna. Sgt. Bagneris signed the gist.
Bagneris reported the incident to Lieutenant Aaron Blackwell
("Lt. Blackwell"), who conducted an inquiry. Lt.
Blackwell learned from his interview with Officer Fortuna
that Officer Fortuna explained the details of the arrest to
Sgt. Regis, but that she advised him not to charge the
arrested subject with battery because Officer Fortuna was a
probationary officer (new officer) and would have to take a
urine test if use of force was reported. Lt. Blackwell
further determined that Sgt. Regis did not complete the
paperwork that is required when force is used in connection
with an arrest.
investigation of Sgt. Regis's actions followed, and a
DI-1 Form (Initiation of a Formal Disciplinary Investigation)
was issued on March 23, 2011, alleging the following rule
1. Rule 4: Performance of Duty; Paragraph 4: Neglect of Duty,
Section C: Subparagraph 4; Failing to make a written report
when such is indicated.
2. Rule 6: Official Information, Paragraph 2: False or
3. Rule 4: Performance of Duty; Paragraph 2: Instructions
from an authoritative source. To wit; Chapter 1.3
"Resisting Arrest Report;" Paragraph 1,
Reporting use of force, Subparagraph 1; A
"Resisting Arrest Report" SHALL be prepared
Andre′ LeBlanc, Jr. ("Sgt. LeBlanc"), with
the Public Integrity Bureau, was assigned to the
investigation. Sgt. LeBlanc took statements from Sgt.
Bagneris, Sgt. Stalbert, Officer Fortuna, Officer Kendrick,
Officer Thompson, and Sgt. Regis.
Bagneris related to Sgt. LeBlanc that she believed Officer
Fortuna had probable cause to arrest the subject for battery
on a police officer because it was articulated that the
subject put hands on Officer Fortuna, which was a battery.
Sgt. Bagneris further stated that she believed Sgt. Regis
used Officer Fortuna's status as a probationary officer
as a reason not to report it and to avoid preparing the
additional paperwork required when use of force is involved
in an arrest.
statement to Sgt. LeBlanc, Sgt. Stalbert explained that he
assisted Officer Fortuna in the preparation of the gist. He
stated that Officer Fortuna advised him that the subject was
being charged with battery of a police officer, resisting
arrest, illegal carrying of a firearm and illegal carrying of
a firearm by a convicted felon. Sgt. Stalbert believed that
Officer Fortuna had the necessary elements to support those
charges. He acknowledged that the gist clearly stated that
Officer Fortuna had been pushed by the subject.
Fortuna related to Sgt. LeBlanc how the subject pushed him
and began to flee, and how the subject fought him during the
take down. Officer Fortuna further explained that when he
presented the gist (which included the battery charge) to
Sgt. Regis, she told him he was not supposed to do that type
of report. When asked why not, Sgt. Regis stated that she
would have to do a use of force report and that if he left
those charges in the gist, Officer Fortuna would have to take
a urinalysis. Officer Fortuna further stated that Sgt. Regis
instructed him to take out the charges for battery on an
officer and resisting arrest by flight from an officer. She
also instructed him to take out the detail of the gist
wherein he stated that a brief struggle ensued between
himself and the subject.
Kendrick confirmed in his statement to Sgt. LeBlanc that he
was present during the traffic stop, and that he saw the
subject strike Officer Fortuna in the chest and begin to run.
He further stated that when Officer Fortuna caught up with
the subject, a struggle ensued. Officer Kendrick explained
that he started to assist Officer Fortuna in preparing the
gist, but that Sgt. Regis instructed him to get back out on
the street. When he left the station, it was his
understanding that the subject was going to be arrested for
battery on an officer, resisting arrest by flight and the gun
Thompson stated that she arrived on the scene as the officers
were securing the subject in the police car. At the station,
she assisted Officer Fortuna with the charging and the
content of the gist. Officer Thompson stated that prior to
leaving the station, the components explaining how Officer
Fortuna was battered were on the gist sheet. She further
stated that the battery of Officer Fortuna was in the
narrative of the incident report and the details were
consistent with the details in the original gist, which she
assisted in preparing.
Regis provided a statement to Sgt. LeBlanc on June 3, 2011.
She stated that when Officer Fortuna returned to the station
after the arrest, she noticed green stains on the back of his
shirt. She asked him what happened, and he told her that he
had the guy by the car and the guy took off running. Officer
Fortuna ran behind him. He caught the subject, they fell to
the ground, and the subject was immediately handcuffed.
Regis stated that when she read the initial gist, she asked
Officer Fortuna if the subject committed a battery on him, to
which he replied, no. She further stated that she only
reviewed the gist sheet, not the incident report. Sgt. Regis
maintained that there were no details of a battery contained
in the gist. This fact is disputed by Officer Fortuna, Sgt.
Stalbert, and Officer Thompson and later contradicted by Sgt.
Regis's own testimony in her appeal to the CSC. In her
statement to Sgt. LeBlanc, she claims that she only
instructed Officer Fortuna to remove the battery charge.
Regis denied telling Officer Fortuna that she should not
complete a use of force report because he was a probationary
officer. Sgt. Regis explained that because Officer Fortuna
did not express that a battery had taken place, she told him
that he would have to take that out of the gist. Otherwise,
she told him, "you have to go get yo 'P' test,
we'll do a first report of injury and that's
Regis stated that she did not speak with Officer Kendrick
about the incident, and denied telling Officer Kendrick to go
back out on the street. Sgt. Regis suggested that Officer
Fortuna may have been coerced into providing information
against her, although she did not elaborate.
the investigation, Sgt. Regis was demoted and ultimately
terminated by letter dated January 30, 2012. The disciplinary
letter sets forth the following, in pertinent part:
Regarding the violation of Rule 4: Performance of Duty,
paragraph 2 - Instructions from an Authoritative Source to
wit: Chapter 1.3 Resisting Arrest Report, paragraph 1,
sub-paragraph 1 was recommended a Duplicate. Deputy
Superintendent Albert further recommended an additional
sustained violation of Rule 4: Performance of Duty, paragraph
4, Neglect of Duty, Section C Subparagraph 4 - Failure to
make a written report when such is indicated (Resting Arrest
Report), which is the more applicable violation which should
be classified as SUSTAINED.
Sergeant Regis as a police supervisor had the duty and
responsibility to perform certain tasks when she was informed
that force was used towards the officer and on the arrested
subject by the officer. Sergeant Regis neglected to properly
supervise Officer Fortuna and failed to complete the
necessary paperwork required when force is used. Instead she
advised, and instructed Officer Fortuna to remove the mention
of use of force and battery of a police officer from his gist
of the arrest. This is a violation of Rule 4: Performance of