A body-worn camera video released by Louisiana State Police on Thursday under a judge’s order shows a trooper and New Orleans Police Department Sgt. Chantelle Davis engaged in a verbal spat during a traffic stop in November. But there's little to suggest a grievous lack of professionalism.
The NOPD's Public Integrity Bureau initiated an investigation in January into the actions of Davis and her 8th District supervisor, Cmdr. Nicholas Gernon, related to the Nov. 17 traffic stop and Gernon’s alleged failure to properly handle a State Police complaint about Davis' roadside manner.
The Advocate requested all records from the stop, including video from the body-worn camera of Jared Taylor, the trooper who stopped Davis. State Police denied the request for the video, citing Davis’ “reasonable expectation of privacy” during the noontime stop along the West Bank Expressway.
The Advocate sued, and 19th Judicial District Judge William Morvant late last month ordered State Police to turn over the 7-minute video after redacting a handful of moments that included Davis’ license plate and driver’s license numbers.
The tape reveals a verbal dispute that never escalated.
Taylor had pulled over Davis for allegedly driving 83 mph in a 60 mph zone. She told him she was headed for an LSU football game, and she wore an LSU shirt as she exited her vehicle and stood along the guardrail.
“I don’t feel safe up here,” she tells him. “I’m a police officer. I work for NOPD. So this is the safest place for me to be right now?”
The trooper and the officer begin to squabble.
“So if you work for NOPD, then you know that I’m the one that tells you where to stand, right?” Taylor tells her.
“So I have the right to ask you, right?” Davis asks.
“And I told you that this is where you stand,” the trooper responds. “There’s no other place for you to go.”
“OK, go ahead, give me the ticket please so I can go….We’ll talk about this another time. It’s my safety.”
Initially, Davis complained about the trooper to Gernon, her supervisor. Gernon then called State Police, who reviewed the video and told Gernon that it was Davis who had acted out of line.
“She immediately had an attitude, tried to control the stop, volunteered that she was NOPD, challenged (Taylor) on where he told her to stand, shooed him disrespectfully and ordered him to write the ticket so she could go,” Troop B Lt. Jay Cripple wrote following the incident.
Troop B Capt. Donovan Archote ultimately voided Davis’ speeding ticket, writing “Matter handled with Commander Nick Gernon” on a form documenting the torn-up citation.
Davis, an 8th District detective, was promoted to sergeant in late December, while NOPD brass touted her as an exemplar of the department's efforts to develop women leaders from within.
The internal investigation related to allegations that Davis violated NOPD rules governing moral conduct, professionalism and an alleged failure to properly report her speeding ticket.
Gernon, the high-profile leader of a police district that includes the French Quarter, was alleged to have fumbled the State Police complaint about Davis’ behavior and failed to properly supervise a subordinate.
NOPD officials have said only that the allegations against Davis weren’t serious enough, if sustained, to have stalled her promotion, and that Gernon did not ask State Police to tear up Davis' speeding ticket.
An NOPD spokesman said Thursday that the department had no further comment.
Eric Hessler, Gernon’s attorney, said the investigation has been completed and is pending a review. He maintained that Gernon “did what he was supposed to do” in his handling of the incident.