Board upholds firing of Baton Rouge police officer, conduct described as ‘harassing’ and ‘controlling’ _lowres

Christopher M. Robinson

A Baton Rouge police officer fired in April after fraudulently calling the cops on his ex-girlfriend — and lying about it to investigators — cannot have his job back, a civil service board ruled Thursday.

Christopher M. Robinson, a corporal who had served Baton Rouge for a decade, displayed “harassing” and “controlling behavior” toward his former girlfriend and abused police resources to do so, said Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board chair Julie Cherry. Robinson had a child with the girlfriend while he was married to another woman, he admitted.

In placing an anonymous call in December to the Baton Rouge Police Department through its nonemergency number, Robinson also diverted several on-duty officers from legitimate calls, the board said.

Robinson was fired by Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. after an internal affairs investigation found the officer violated policies regarding “truthfulness” and “conduct unbecoming of an officer.”

The allegations stemmed from Dec. 6, when Robinson left an assignment at a hospital and drove past his ex-girlfriend’s residence, where he spotted an unknown truck parked in front, he said. He dialed the police station about a fictitious fight outside the residence, prompting officers to show up at the house with flashlights and with blue lights on their cars, intimidating his ex-girlfriend, according to her testimony. He’d fought with her over custody of their 2-year-old son and once tried to bar her from having overnight visitors.

The ex-girlfriend claimed Robinson himself showed up with other officers to shine lights on the truck’s license plate, a charge he denied.

Robinson later lied about the event to internal affairs investigators, but subsequently tried to change his statement.

“I’m sure a lot of murderers want to take back that bullet,” said Cpl. Robert Moruzzi, a police representative on the board.

Robinson was issued a summons in January on counts of criminal mischief and unauthorized access to records by 19th Judicial District Attorney Hillar Moore — stemming from claims Robinson searched the criminal histories of his ex-girlfriend and a companion of hers — but that case was later dropped after he took part in a pretrial diversion program.

During the hourslong hearing Thursday, the question of Robinson’s credibility arose several times, with a lawyer for the Police Department accusing Robinson of lying even as he testified in front of the board.

“I didn’t anticipate you would not be truthful about this today,” said attorney John Naquin, after Robinson told him he hadn’t been through the internal affairs process prior to the December event. Naquin displayed documents showing internal affairs investigators in fact sustained a complaint against Robinson in 2007 regarding carrying out orders.

Robinson made other statements Thursday that a Baton Rouge Police internal affairs investigator, Cpl. Orscini Beard II, said were false. One was Robinson’s claim that he spoke to Beard on the phone in an effort to retract his lies; Beard said Robinson only texted.

“Lying is, for lack of a better word, a cardinal sin,” said Dabadie, who testified Thursday. “It eats and deteriorates the core of an officer’s credibility.”

Robinson said he initially lied to investigators because he was scared.

“My judgment was clouded,” he said, of the December incident.

He’d called police on his ex-girlfriend in the hopes it would reveal the identity of her visitor, who he believed might have been making his son sick, he said.

Police officers and firefighters have the right to appeal terminations and disciplinary actions to the civil service board, which can override decisions by police and fire chiefs.

The board voted unanimously 5-0 to uphold Dabadie’s choice to fire Robinson.

Carl E. Babin, Robinson’s attorney, said he’s not sure whether he’ll appeal the board’s ruling to the 19th Judicial District Court. He has 15 days to file an appeal.

“We’re disappointed with the board’s decision,” he said.

Follow Maya Lau on Twitter, @mayalau.