Judge hears motion to toss search warrant for missing cell phone

Dewayne White
Dewayne White

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The case involving the city-issued cell phone for former police Chief Dewayne White was back in court Wednesday. City leaders say White never returned a $500 cell phone after being fired. Police were asked to find the phone. City Police got a warrant last week and searched a Zachary woman's home after pulling records from the city-issued phone.

The warrant indicates the Baton Rouge Police Department is investigating a theft of a city-parish cell phone that was issued to a Baton Rouge police officer. The document never names the officer, but it states the officer said he was never issued a phone.

The warrant also indicates investigators pulled records on the phone and found the majority of calls and text messages were made to a woman who lives in Zachary. The document allowed police to search her home.

Jill Craft, the attorney for the former police chief, says whatever evidence police found during their search for the phone should be thrown out. She says the warrant was wrongly obtained and accused the city of shopping around until they could find someone to sign that warrant.

The issue went before Judge Chip Moore in an emergency hearing Wednesday and it will continue Thursday afternoon. During their search warrant last week, police confiscated a Zachary woman's phone to try to prove Chief White did have a city-issued phone, which he denied at one time. The records would show he used the city phone to call that woman.

Fighting back, Craft put in a public records request looking into the investigating officer, Mac Thomas', city issued cell phone, his duty rosters and any emails between him and the Mayor's office.

Craft says she is trying to prove through those emails that the mayor is using the criminal court system for his own good.

Craft said she has the cell phone in question. She added she took it as a piece of evidence after Mayor Kip Holden made it an issue.

Also on Wednesday, the city filed a subpoena asking Craft to return their property… the city issued cell phone.

In response to a question asked by WAFB about the phone being city property and that she needs to give it back, she said: "Well they can have the plastic box. My concern has always been the information contained on the plastic box/the phone. Just because you have a city or government owned phone does not mean you don't have a right of privacy on the data and information contained in it," said Craft.

WAFB tried talking to city attorneys outside of the courtroom, and they said they had no comment.

Craft says she is trying to prove, through the investigating officer's emails, that Mayor Kip Holden and his office are behind this investigation into former Chief White. Holden has denied any involvement in this cell phone investigation.

Dewayne White was fired by East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President in February and the two came face to face in a public hearing five days after he was asked to clean out his desk.

The heated hearing started with the Mayor going through every item listed on a letter sent to the media. White denied the charges during the hearing.

The Office of State Examiner has set May 22 as the date for eligible applicants to take the civil service exam for the position of Baton Rouge Police Chief.

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