A high-ranking Gretna police officer was demoted and suspended last year for failing to conduct a formal investigation of an incident in which an officer kicked a handcuffed suspect, according to the department.

Veteran officer Scott Vinson was demoted from captain and commander of field operations to lieutenant, and was suspended for 45 days, for failing to report the April 22 incident involving another officer, Deputy Chief Anthony Christiana said.

Eric Covell replaced Vinson as commander of field operations.

Vinson began serving his suspension in November and has since returned to duty, Christiana said. He also was placed on one year of probation and transferred out of the Patrol Division.

Instead of sending news of the incident — in which former Officer Robert Wallow was accused of kicking a prone, handcuffed burglary suspect — up the chain of command, Vinson instead conducted an “informal investigation,” Christiana said.

Vinson gave Wallow counseling instead of recommending discipline, Christiana said.

The Police Department contends that Vinson should have brought the matter to the attention of Christiana and Chief Arthur Lawson.

Lawson has said he became aware of Wallow’s use of force on Aug. 25 as a result of a separate investigation which he has not described. Christiana said that investigation remains ongoing; he declined to describe its focus.

The Police Department fired Wallow on Sept. 15, then booked him on counts of simple battery and malfeasance the next day.

Wallow has not been formally charged. His next court date is in March, according to court records.

Vinson has been with the department for 22 years, according to a LinkedIn profile. His former position gave him supervision over patrol officers in the department, which has more than 100 cops.

He was previously accused, in a December 2015 lawsuit, of punishing an officer who spoke up about what he said was an illegal quota system. That officer, Daniel Swear, claimed that Vinson disciplined him and urged him to resign after he spoke out against a quota for arrests and traffic tickets.

The Police Department denied that a quota existed. The case remains pending in federal court.  Swear is no longer with the department. 

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msledge@theadvocate.com | (504) 636-7432