Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux on Tuesday released his letter recommending the removal of Independent Police Monitor Susan Hutson. In so doing, he offered a window into a stormy meeting between Hutson and a federal judge over the release of a video showing alleged police misconduct.
Quatrevaux wrote to the city’s Ethics Review Board on Thursday urging the firing of Hutson, whom he hired in 2010 but has since feuded with over how independent her office is from his.
The board has set an Oct. 23 meeting to vote on his request.
Quatrevaux’s office had refused to release the letter on Friday, calling it a “personnel” matter. But on Tuesday he said that Hutson attorney Ron Wilson’s comments about the letter to The New Orleans Advocate had “waived her right to privacy.”
Wilson strenuously objected to the claims in Quatrevaux’s letter last week, suggesting that his recommendation for Hutson’s firing is a “retaliatory” move in response to her push to have their two offices separated. Wilson said his client intends to defend herself against what he called “baseless” allegations.
Hutson’s supporters are attempting to show their numbers ahead of the Ethics Board vote. More than 300 people, some of them anonymous or from other states, had signed an online petition in support of Hutson by Tuesday.
Several members of the board contacted Tuesday declined to comment on the letter or how they intend to vote next month.
The inspector general’s letter provides new details about an apparently tumultuous July 14 meeting between Hutson and U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan, who is overseeing the New Orleans Police Department’s reform agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.
According to Quatrevaux, Morgan was upset that Hutson had released, without the judge’s approval, a video of NOPD Officer Terrance Saulny hitting a 16-year-old inmate in juvenile custody. Morgan tried to force the monitor to agree to terms under which she would release similar documents in the future.
“Ms. Hutson was combative with the judge and refused to agree to any protocol regarding release of information and stated that she would unilaterally release information without any coordination,” according to Quatrevaux’s retelling of the incident, which he sourced to unnamed witnesses.
“The judge stated that it appeared as though Ms. Hutson was attempting to ‘sensationalize’ police incidents and directed NOPD to restrict the Independent Police Monitor Division to ‘view only’ access because of Ms. Hutson’s stated intention to release information in violation of the judge’s directive.”
The video was distributed to the news media July 1 in response to public records requests from several agencies, including The New Orleans Advocate. Then-Deputy Independent Police Monitor Simone Levine said at the time that its release was meant to foster transparency.
Quatrevaux said that after the video was released, Morgan ordered the city to provide the monitor “view only” access to videos and documents in the NOPD’s possession, meaning Hutson or her staff could not take them back to their own offices for review. This restricted access to documents, Quatrevaux claimed, has “crippled” the police monitor’s ability to do its job.
Hutson directed a reporter’s call Tuesday to her attorney, who did not return a request for comment.