A Baton Rouge police officer arrested in October for allegedly submitting a false police report was fired Friday after she spent more than seven months on paid administrative leave, officials said.
An internal investigation in October found Michelle Patterson, 29, confiscated a marijuana cigarette from a civilian and issued a misdemeanor summons, but she later rewrote her report to remove any mention of the evidence she confiscated or the summons she issued, a Baton Rouge police spokesman said in October.
She was terminated Friday morning, effective immediately, after meeting with Baton Rouge police officials, Sgt. Don Coppola Jr. said.
Sgt. L'Jean McKneely, another department spokesman, said the disciplinary decision was delayed — more than six months from her arrest — because of the criminal investigation, which often halts internal investigations, but mostly because of the transition at the top of the agency.
When Patterson was arrested, interim Police Chief Jonny Dunnam was leading the department. Chief Murphy Paul was sworn into the position in January.
McKneely did not know the date the criminal investigation ended, and declined to comment about why Paul waited more than four months to issue the termination. Internal affairs investigations have 60 days to be completed with the opportunity for a 60-day extension. McKneely said the internal investigation had been completed well before Friday, awaiting the chief's disciplinary decision.
Patterson has remained on paid administrative leave since late October, according to payroll records. The city-parish government paid her more than $18,200 since she was placed on leave and prohibited from working as an officer, payroll records show.
A Baton Rouge police officer was arrested Thursday after submitting a false police report to her supervisor, BRPD spokesman Sgt. Don Coppola J…
After she was booked into Parish Prison in October on counts of injuring public records and malfeasance in office, Patterson posted $1,000 in bail and was released.
The East Baton Rouge District Attorney's Office reviewed the case, but did not file charges within the time period allotted by state law for bail to be required. Under Louisiana law, prosecutors have up to 150 days to file charges for felony arrests when a person has posted bail. Because no charges were filed, she was released from her bail obligation.
East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III said his office continues to consider the criminal case against Patterson. He cited the state's statute of limitations, which allows him to prosecute a felony case within four years of the initial arrest.
Patterson is one of 32 current and former members of law enforcement included on a District Attorney's Office's internal list of officers who have been arrested or have a conviction that hasn’t been expunged, who have been disciplined for questionable or unbecoming behavior often revealed through media reports, or those with a history of being untruthful, Moore said. Patterson was added to the list in October after her arrest. Prosecutors are required to keep defense attorneys informed about these officers if one is involved in one of their cases, he said.
Moore said he has seven criminal cases where Patterson could be called as a potential witness, but he was unsure Friday exactly how the termination and her history could affect those cases.
Patterson responded to a call in September about a woman possessing marijuana. According to her body camera footage, Patterson confiscated a marijuana cigarette from the woman and issued her a misdemeanor summons, Coppola said in October.
The next day Patterson typed her report of the incident, documenting the events accurately, Coppola said. But later that same day, she deleted the initial report and wrote a new description of events, leaving out that she confiscated a marijuana cigarette and issued a misdemeanor summons.
The original misdemeanor summons was later found in Patterson's police vehicle, Coppola said.
Patterson has been a Baton Rouge police officer for more than two years, assigned to the Uniform Patrol Division.
Attempts to contact Patterson were unsuccessful Friday.