DENHAM SPRINGS — Mayor Gerard Landry testified Tuesday that he ordered former Police Chief Scott Jones to ensure the law was followed in handling Councilman Chris Davis’ domestic violence case, but the chief disregarded that order and allowed his officers to break the law.
Testifying to the city’s Civil Service Board on the third night of Jones’ appeal of his termination, Landry said he intervened in the case because he was concerned for the safety of Davis’ wife, who was injured during a Jan. 15 altercation between the couple.
The police issued Davis a summons after that incident, instead of arresting him, prompting an investigation that ended in Jones’ and Capt. Steve Kistler’s firing on April 7.
Landry said Robyn Davis had previously told him that her husband had post-traumatic stress disorder and multiple personalities.
The mayor said he advised Jones of that information soon after the Jan. 15 incident, but the chief assured him that Robyn Davis was no longer in danger.
Both Davises have since said the injury was an accident. But Landry testified Tuesday that the change came after a flurry of conflicting text messages from the chief advising the mayor what was happening with the case.
Landry said Jones told him the city prosecutor, Blayne Honeycutt, had said the department should not arrest Chris Davis unless there was more trouble. As long as Robyn Davis testified in court to what she said in her revised statement — that it was an accident — it would be handled in city court through a summons, Landry recalled the chief saying.
The mayor said he didn’t know that issuing a summons in lieu of arrest in a domestic violence case was against state law until Feb. 5, when the District Attorney’s Office requested its own warrant for Chris Davis’ arrest.
Benjamin Chapman, Jones’ attorney, asked Landry whether he was aware of other officers having disobeyed orders and receiving only written reprimands. Chapman asked whether Landry was familiar with the term “progressive discipline.”
And piling a thick stack of commendation records on the witness stand, then wiggling a slim packet of disciplinary papers in front of Landry, Chapman asked whether the mayor had reviewed the entirety of Jones’ career before deciding that termination was the right course of action.
Landry said he thought prior discipline and awards should be taken into account, generally, but he didn’t do that in Jones’ case.
“You don’t think that’s relevant in this case?” Chapman asked Landry.
“Not when you violate the law,” Landry replied.
The mayor said he was concerned and confused when he learned of the flurry of phone calls and text messages among Chris Davis, Kistler, Jones and Honeycutt on the day of the altercation.
“Fifteen or 16 calls in a matter of hours seemed strange, especially considering they were all major participants in this,” Landry said.
Chapman asked Landry whether, out of his concern for Robyn Davis’ safety, he had ever called her after the incident. Landry said he had not.
Landry testified he was unaware that Robyn Davis had successfully petitioned the state district court to dissolve the protective order issued against her husband after his arrest.
The defense is expected to begin mounting its case Wednesday before Civil Service Board.
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