POSTED: Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 3:00pm
UPDATED: Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 3:04pm
NEW ORLEANS, LA — Three New Orleans Police officers were dismissed from duty yesterday following internal investigations that revealed violations of the department’s Truthfulness policy.
Eddie Polite, who was a 29 year veteran of the NOPD, was investigated when photos surfaced showing him asleep in his uniform one afternoon last April in his personal vehicle. At the time, Polite was supposed to be working a paid detail for an Uptown business. When questioned, Mr. Polite did not tell the Integrity Control Officer that he had been hired to work a detail at that time. Paperwork obtained from the Uptown business proved otherwise. An administrative hearing held before Assistant Superintendent Darryl Albert led to Chief Albert concluding that Mr. Polite violated departmental policies of Moral Conduct (Honesty and Truthfulness), Professional Conduct and Performance of Duty. As a result, Chief Albert recommended Mr. Polite’s dismissal. Superintendent Ronal Serpas agreed. Mr. Polite most recently worked in the Seventh District.
Chief Albert also recommended that Kevin Wheeler, a 5 year veteran, and Juan Vera, a 4 year veteran, be dismissed after internal an investigation found that both men gave false accounts of an incident involving ECD deployments. On October 18, 2011, Wheeler and Vera responded to a call of a man armed with a machete. Both men ended up administering ECD deployments on the man. Vera deployed his ECD once, while Wheeler deployed his twice. As all ECD deployments are automatically video-taped, a review of those recordings showed the man was unarmed when the ECDs were used, and posed no serious threat of bodily harm to either officer at the time. Despite this, both Wheeler and Vera issued statements to their supervisor immediately after the incident claiming the subject was armed, and did pose a physical threat to them.
At the hearing yesterday, Wheeler was found to have violated the Honest and Truthfulness policy, which calls for termination. He was also found to have violated Moral Conduct rules, for Using Unauthorized Force, as well as another violation of Moral Conduct for Failure to Report Misconduct of his fellow officer. He was also in violation of the Performance of Duty policy (for deploying his ECD twice on the subject) and he was also cited for providing False and Inaccurate Reports.
Juan Vera was found to have violated the Honest and Truthfulness policy, to have used Unauthorized Force for deploying the ECD once on an unarmed subject, for his Failure to Report Misconduct of his fellow officer and for providing False Information in an Incident Report.
Wheeler and Vera were partners and last stationed in the Second District.
Officer Larry King, who was on the scene of the arrest that night with Wheeler and Vera, was found to be in violation of the Moral Conduct policy, as he failed to report the misconduct of then-Officers Wheeler and Vera. As a result, he will be suspended for five days.
“Ever since I first came back to this department as Chief, I’ve made it clear that- under no circumstances will we tolerate untruthfulness, and that anyone who is found to have been untruthful, will be terminated. Policing is one of the noblest of professions, and honesty on the job is a mandatory element”, said Superintendent Ronal Serpas.
“Anyone who earns the privilege of wearing a law enforcement uniform immediately takes on the responsibility of keeping order in society. If officers are not honest and transparent about their actions, they don’t deserve the respect and cooperation of the people they serve. “
“In the Wheeler and Vera case, I am very satisfied that our internal control systems determined that the information provided in the police report did not match evidence available. I applaud their integrity, and am confident in their abilities as leaders; however, what is disappointing is that on-scene supervision failed and we have initiated an investigation into potential serious violations by field supervisors,” Serpas said.