The Lafayette Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board on Wednesday approved an appeals hearing for Pablo Estrada, a Lafayette Police Department officer fighting his termination over an incident at the Lafayette Parish Jail in November.
By accepting the appeals request, the board gives Estrada and his attorney, Allyson Prejean, the opportunity to present a case to fight his termination.
Sgt. Paul Mouton, the Lafayette Police Department representative on the board, said it’s standard procedure for the board to accept appeals hearing requests as long as the employee appealing has met all procedural requirements, such as appealing within the mandated time frame and submitting the necessary paperwork.
A date for Estrada’s appeals hearing was not specified on Wednesday.
Estrada was terminated Feb. 22, KATC reported. Surveillance video from inside the Lafayette Parish Jail showed Estrada enter the room with a man, identified as Dennis Lazard, in handcuffs. Lazard was arrested on counts of battery of a dating partner and resisting an officer on Nov. 28, per booking records.
Estrada told Lazard to sit on the bench and the man walked toward the bench, but did not sit. Estrada came toward Lazard and the handcuffed man took a step back. Estrada then went to sit at an adjacent desk, and when Lazard stepped toward him, Estrada came over, pushed Lazard, punched him in the stomach and forced him to sit on the bench, the video showed.
Michael Toussaint, vice president of the Lafayette NAACP chapter, said at Wednesday’s board meeting the organization stands behind Estrada’s termination and believes the behavior captured on surveillance video illustrates that he’s a danger to the community.
“He has no place on our police department and he’s not a safe individual to be put on our streets, policing our citizens, regardless of who they might be,” Toussaint said.
Board members noted they haven’t been briefed on the facts of the case, or Estrada’s behavior, and will learn about the incident and his firing during his future hearing.
A separate request for an appeals hearing from Lafayette Police Department officer Jeremy Robert was removed from Wednesday’s agenda. Robert’s appeal would have sought a board judgement on his transfer to desk duty, which his attorney Allyson Prejean argued in an appeal letter stemmed from higher ups’ belief that Robert was “a liability” following an April 2020 incident. The appeal request may be brought at a later date.
Robert was suspended for one day without pay by Interim Police Chief Scott Morgan over the incident, during which he “hogtied” a woman and dragged her out of a vehicle during an arrest. Robert sought to appeal that suspension with the board, but before the hearing was held Mayor-President Josh Guillory intervened and ordered Robert terminated, stating he didn’t find the punishment sufficient.
Robert appealed his termination and argued the punishment from Guillory constituted a double jeopardy situation. His termination was unanimously overturned by the Fire and Police Civil Service Board in September. Members said they had concerns about the precedent Guillory’s intervention would set, according to meeting records. Guillory and the city-parish are now suing to overturn the board’s decision in the 15th Judicial District Court.