DENHAM SPRINGS — Two police officers testified Wednesday night that they were uncomfortable with the decision to issue a summons in lieu of arrest in a domestic violence case involving a city councilman.
The testimony came on the second night of former Police Chief Scott Jones’ appeal of his termination. The Civil Service Board recessed until Tuesday, when the city will continue presenting its witnesses. The board hopes to wrap up the hearing by June 2.
Jones and his second-in-command, Capt. Steve Kistler, were fired April 7 after an investigation into the department’s handling of Councilman Chris Davis’ case.
Davis’ wife dialed 911 on Jan. 15 after an altercation between the couple resulted in her sustaining a head injury. Both Davises have since said the injury was an accident.
Sgt. Thomas Delrie testified Wednesday night that he and Officer Wesley Clarkson, who responded to the 911 call at the Davis home, believed they had probable cause for arrest. Delrie said he was surprised when Kistler later told him he had issued the councilman a summons in lieu of arrest.
Sgt. James Joseph also testified it was Kistler who ordered the officers to issue Davis a summons. Joseph said Kistler told him he had talked to the District Attorney’s Office, and they had agreed that was how Davis’ case would be handled.
Joseph said the arrest warrant already had been signed, but Kistler told him Davis’ wife would be coming back into the department — her second visit to the station the day after the altercation — to make a revised statement.
Asked how he felt about the change in procedure, Joseph said, “I felt a little funny about it, but I said if that’s what they agreed with, that’s what it is.”
Delrie testified that he also felt uncomfortable with the decision to issue a summons and told Kistler he intended to pursue action on the matter.
“I was going to write a letter (up the chain), but everything blew up the next day,” Delrie said.
The officers were confused by the decision because they had just attended training sessions — taught by Kistler — in December on a new department policy requiring an arrest in all domestic violence cases, Delrie said.
“We had been trained a certain way. Now I’m having to tell them we’re not doing it that way,” Delrie said.
Delrie and Joseph both said they did not discuss the Davis case with Jones and had no knowledge of whether the chief was involved in how the matter was handled.
That sentiment was echoed by Assistant District Attorney Blayne Honeycutt, who also serves as Denham Springs’ city prosecutor. He testified he never discussed the case with the chief either.
Honeycutt said Kistler texted him on Jan. 15 to discuss the Davis matter. Honeycutt said officers don’t typically call him during the investigative stage of a case, and he was confused about why Kistler was contacting him.
Asked whether he believed Kistler was seeking his blessing to issue a summons in lieu of arrest, Honeycutt said, “I don’t know. Maybe.”
Honeycutt said he was not well versed in the applicable laws and told Kistler to handle it the way the officers believed was correct.
Honeycutt said he never told Kistler to issue the summons.
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