Minden reinstates police officer, cleared of involvement in racist posts
Civil service board listens as mayor, chief and others testify they heard councilman Herbert Taylor admit to being behind the posts
MINDEN, La. (KSLA) — A one-time Minden police officer, once accused of making racists Facebook posts, is reinstated by the city’s civil service board, but only after extraordinary testimony by city officials and others.
Officer Shawn Griffith was reinstated with full back pay at the end of Thursday night’s two hour civil service hearing.
One of the first called to testify in the hearing was Shawn’s brother, Shane, who at one time had also been fired, accused of making racists posts years before joining Minden police. Roughly a month ago, he successfully fought to be reinstated to the force.
Shane testified that during one of many phone calls with Councilman Herbert Taylor, the man who lead the charge to have the Griffith brothers fired, that Taylor admitted to being behind the posts.
“I’m responsible for this, it’s all on me,” began Shane, explaining what he says Taylor revealed to him.
“I’m responsible for the Facebook posts. I did it.”
Shane says he was standing in Chief Steve Cropper’s office, alongside Mayor Terry Gardner, with the call on speakerphone.
When asked if he heard the councilman admit to being responsible for the posts, Mayor Gardner responded, “I did.”
He went on to say he wished the board would reinstate officer Griffith.
Chief Cropper then testified, answering questions from Griffith’s attorney, Pamela Breedlove.
“In that conversation, did he (Taylor) admit to being responsible for those Facebook posts?,” asked Breedlove.
“Yes ma’am, he did,” answered Cropper.
Breedlove also called a freelance reporter to the stand, who shared that Taylor admitted to her that he had lied about the two Griffith officers being responsible for the posts.
When asked if Taylor admitted to her that he had lied, Tiffany Flournoy said, “Yes ma’am.”
Officer Shane Griffith also presented a phone recording to the civil service board, a call between he and councilman Taylor.
In the recording, Taylor, who admits it is him on the call, is heard offering what sounds like advice, suggesting Shane should sue the city.
Shane then delivered a very alarming accusation, claiming that Taylor, in a later phone call, said he wanted compensation if Shane did sue.
“He said he would help me sue the city and that he would want 25 percent of what I got in return,” a startling claim that drew moans from both the board and those in attendance.
“I’m real frustrated that somebody, on our city, with our city council, encourages someone to sue our city, and is suppose to represent our city,” a frustrated Mayor Gardner said after the meeting.
Councilman Taylor balked at all the accusations.
“I was shocked and appalled that the chief and the mayor would lie,” began Taylor, who seemed to be live streaming parts of Thursday’s civil service meeting.
“They’re lying to protect the racists,” Taylor said, closing out his remarks before saying, “No more comments,” as he walked away.
Shawn Griffith and Breedlove appeared in Webster District Court in downtown Minden on Tuesday after filing suit against the city to get his job back.
Breedlove filed suit because, she said, Griffith was not allowed to have his firing appeal heard by a civil service board, after the city council claimed Griffith was not protected by civil service law.
“The district court disagreed, that they (civil service board) did have jurisdiction and should have heard the appeal,” she said.
Judge Charles Smith remanded the case back to the civil service board, leading up to Thursday night’s revelations.
But not every city official wanted this case to be heard on this night, despite the judge’s order.
City attorney Charles Minifield, who was noticeably absent during Tuesday’s district court hearing, argued that the civil service board should ignore Judge Smith’s order since he was never served to attend Tuesday’s hearing, unaware that it was even taking place.
“You’ve got to give me notice,” exclaimed Minifield.
The board responded by pointing out it was Minifield who had asked district court for Tuesday’s hearing, and that the city’s mayor, police chief, and a council member were all in attendance in Judge Smith’s courtroom, fully aware of the hearing.
Minifield then presented another court order, that he says he secured earlier on Thursday from a different judge, in an attempt to prevent Thursday night’s civil service hearing from taking place.
“If you’re saying that I was going around judge shopping, you can forget that notion,” Minifield told KSLA News 12′s Doug Warner.
Breedlove also successfully argued, in addition to all of the testimony accusing Taylor of creating this Facebook hoax, that her client’s rights were violated since no one with the city ever read Shawn Griffith his police officer bill of rights.
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