FROM CITY CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION ORLEANS NO. 8689
J. Hessler ATTORNEY AT LAW COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT
J. LeBeouf, City Attorney Donesia D. Turner, Senior Chief
Deputy City Attorney Elizabeth S. Robins, Deputy City
Attorney Erica Therio, Assistant City Attorney Megan A.
Haynes, Assistant City Attorney COUNSEL FOR
composed of Chief Judge James F. McKay, III, Judge Daniel L.
Dysart, and Judge Sandra Cabrina Jenkins
CABRINA JENKINS, JUDGE
a civil service commission case. Police Officer Kevin Pozzo
seeks review of the decision of the Civil Service Commission
of the City of New Orleans ("CSC") denying his
appeal of the termination of his employment by the New
Orleans Police Department (the "NOPD" or the
"Appointing Authority"). We find that NOPD'S
administrative investigation exceeded the maximum time
limitation standards set forth in the Police Officers'
Bill of Rights, codified at La. R.S. 40:2531. Accordingly, we
conclude that NOPD'S decision to terminate Mr. Pozzo is
an absolute nullity under La. R.S. 40:2531(C), and we vacate
the decision of the CSC. We further order restoration of all
back pay and emoluments to Mr. Pozzo.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Pozzo, a SWAT Team member, was a 12-year veteran of the NOPD.
On June 29, 2017, the NOPD terminated his employment for an
alleged violation of the following NOPD rule:
Rule 2: Moral Conduct; Paragraph 1, Adherence to Law to wit:
Violation of La. R.S. 14:35.3, Relative to Domestic
December 11, 2015, Mr. Pozzo and his then-fiancé,
Melanie Wilson, who shared a residence, were drinking
alcoholic beverages at home, and continued to drink afterward
at an acquaintance's open house party. Mr. Pozzo became
upset when he observed Ms. Wilson talking with other men at
the party. After Mr. Pozzo confronted one of the men, Mr.
Pozzo and Ms. Wilson were asked to leave the party. At about
7:00 p.m., they returned to their home. Mr. Pozzo admittedly
threw a glass beer bottle against an interior wall, causing
it to shatter. What happened next is disputed by the parties.
investigators alleged that Mr. Pozzo committed a domestic
abuse battery upon Ms. Wilson when he "pushed the chair
she was seated in causing her to fall to the floor."
Investigators also alleged that Mr. Pozzo "aggressively
forced the front door against [Ms. Wilson] preventing her
from leaving the home."
Pozzo testified that he "kind of shook" the chair
Ms. Wilson was sitting in, but that she did not fall off the
chair. He also testified that Ms. Wilson tried to leave
through the front door, but he stopped her because he thought
she was heavily intoxicated, and he did not want her to
Wilson, however, initially told NOPD investigators that Mr.
Pozzo pushed over the chair in which she was sitting, causing
her to fall. She also told investigators that she grabbed her
car keys and was leaving to "defuse" the situation.
At the CSC hearing, however, Ms. Wilson testified that she
recalled Mr. Pozzo putting his hand on the chair in which she
was sitting, but did not recall what happened afterward.
footage captured by a security camera located inside the
residence shows an apparently frightened Ms. Wilson rushing
toward the front door, opening it and getting partially
outside. The video then shows Mr. Pozzo entering the video
frame and attempting to force the door closed while Ms.
Wilson was half inside and half outside. Eventually, Ms.
Wilson squeezed through the door and went outside.
not captured on camera, it is undisputed that once Ms. Wilson
got outside of the house, she asked a passing mail carrier to
call the police. Mr. Pozzo admitted that when Ms. Wilson was
on the phone with the 911 dispatcher, she was crying. A
recording of the call reflects that Ms. Wilson was extremely
upset, and told the 911 operator, "he hurt me, but I
don't need an ambulance."
following is a chronological timeline of the post-incident
• On December 11, 2015, Sergeant Kimberly Hunt
("Sgt. Hunt") of the NOPD's Public Integrity
Bureau ("PIB") began an investigation of Mr. Pozzo,
examining possible violations of rules pertaining to his
professional conduct, performance of duty, and criminal
• On December 11, 2015, Sgt. Hunt and Lt. Darryl Watson
of the PIB took a transcribed statement from Ms. Wilson about
• On December 12, 2015, an arrest warrant was issued for
Mr. Pozzo. Mr. Pozzo's commission was revoked and he was
suspended from duty.
• On December 13, 2015, Mr. Pozzo was charged with
domestic abuse battery.
• On December 14, 2015, Sgt. Hunt issued a form DI-1:
"Initiation of Formal Disciplinary Investigation,"
which placed Mr. Pozzo on notice that his actions gave rise
to a possible violation of "Rule 2: Moral Conduct:
Paragraph 1: Adherence to Law," relative to the
commission of domestic abuse battery against Melanie Wilson.
• On December 29, 2015, Sgt. Hunt submitted an Incident
Report to the Assistant District Attorney's Office asking
if the office would be pursuing criminal charges
"relative to Simple Battery Domestic Violence."
• On June 15, 2016, Mr. Pozzo's criminal trial was
• On June 24, 2016, the judge returned a verdict of not
• On June 24, 2016, Sgt. Hunt resumed the administrative
investigation of the complaint against Mr. Pozzo.
• On August 8, 2016, Mr. Pozzo gave an audiotaped and
transcribed interview to Sgt. Hunt.
• On August 12, 2016, Mr. Pozzo was given a "Notice
of Accused Law Enforcement Officer Under Investigation of a
Pre-Disciplinary Hearing or a Determination of an Unfounded
or Unjustified Complaint."
• On August 12, 2016, Sgt. Hunt signed and submitted her
written Investigative Report.
• On November 22, 2016, Sgt. Hunt received the
transcribed testimony of Ms. Wilson from Mr. Pozzo's
criminal trial, and ...