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Judge denies Shreveport detective's request to stop transfer to patrol

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Shreveport detective Rod Demery testified in court Wednesday that Chief Willie Shaw is retaliating against him for alledly uncovering corruption. Shreveport detective Rod Demery testified in court Wednesday that Chief Willie Shaw is retaliating against him for alledly uncovering corruption.
SPD Chief Willie Shaw testified in court Wednesday that Det. Rod Demery is to be transferred due to pre-scandal issues. SPD Chief Willie Shaw testified in court Wednesday that Det. Rod Demery is to be transferred due to pre-scandal issues.
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) -

A Caddo District Court judge has denied a preliminary injunction brought by a Shreveport detective who was pulled off a major case investigation and reassigned to the SPD's patrol unit.

Shreveport Police Detective Rod Demery had asked for a temporary restraining order to block his removal from his spot on the homicide unit and transfer to patrol, as well as his removal from the investigation into the Fire Station 8 scandal.

Judge Joe Bleich denied that request last Tuesday, and denied the request to block it completely after hearing 5 hours of testimony from several witnesses at a preliminary injunction hearing Wednesday, including Demery and SPD Chief Willie Shaw.

Judge Bleich started off the hearing by telling the counsel, "I have six words to say to you and this is all: This shall not be a circus."

In a lawsuit filed last week, Demery claimed the police chief retaliated against him for uncovering information that suggests some members of the fire station administration failed to speak up about information they may have had in connection with the allegations of wrongdoing at Shreveport's Fire Station 8.

As part of that suit, Demery asked the court to issue a restraining order that would prevent his transfer out of the homicide unit and remove him from Station 8 investigation.

Bleich said he is not going to stop that transfer.

His decision doesn't stop the entire lawsuit, which will go forward. But Bleich said, based on the evidence, he doesn't feel it's likely that Demery would win on merit if the case goes to trial.

Demery's attorney had also tried to prove the transfer would do irreparable damage to Demery's reputation, but Bleich said he doesn't believe that to be the case, because Demery can still take his case to the civil service board.

Bleich said he found no showing that there has been any violation of state law, based on the testimony of Demery himself.

Eight witnesses were sequestered right off the bat, with the exception of the first two witnesses to speak, which were Shaw and Demery.

In his testimony, Shaw said the police department is already advertising to fill Demery's spot in the homicide investigations unit. He said Demery's supervisor had requested a transfer request because of a "laundry list" of reasons, saying Demery is causing disruption within the department.

Shaw gave some examples, including failing to turn in reports in a timely manner and appearing on KSLA News 12 to comment on the Ferguson, Missouri situation without the department's permission.

The chief said the patrol department is "a better fit for him at this point in (Demery's) career." Shaw admitted Demery is a good detective, but compared him to the star player on a sports team who doesn't want to practice, just wants to be there for the win. Shaw's attorney read off emails between Demery's supervisors that indicated his failure to turn in reports began before the scandal investigation.

He said the transfer is in the best interest of the department, and the claims that Demery is being transferred as retaliation is "madness."

"When your bad begins to impede on efficient operations, you have to do something," Shaw said.

But Demery testified that prior to the Fire Station 8 investigation, he hadn't, in recent times, had issues with the SPD. He said he was behind on reports because he was investigating several cases at once and had asked supervisors for more realistic deadlines for the overdue reports.

Instead, Demery said the transfer was a direct result of speaking up about "things going on within the department that were grossly negligent and borderline criminal activity."

"The reality is simple," Demery said on the stand. "Shaw is angry with me for reporting something. The Whistleblower Act says if you file a report, there are no reprisals, but obviously there are."

Though Demery clarified he isn't specifically talking about the Fire Station 8 case, when the judge asked him why the petition claims mostly that he isn't accusing anyone of anything, Demery said he doesn't know if Shaw had prior knowledge of the scandal but thinks it should be investigated.

Bleich asked why Demery's petition has accusations in it, and Demery claimed he signed the affidavit from his attorney before reading the petition and will likely add an amendment clarifying that paragraph.

Several other witnesses also testified including Larry Cunningham, SPD patrol officer, Tom Oster, SPD lieutenant and Sgt. Michael Carter, the police union's president.

In his decision, Bleich said that he doesn't believe any state law was broken with the decision to transfer Demery to another unit, and noted that it is not permanent. Demery has the option to appeal to the Civil Service Board. Also, Demery had said in his own testimony that he actually had asked about transferring out of the homicide detective unit. Referring to that testimony, the judge noted that if this had happened two years ago, it would have worked in his favor.

“Well obviously I am disappointed," Demery said following the ruling, "but I respect the court and I respect their decision. I don't have any problem with that at all. The judge is competent, and I think he knows exactly what he is doing. He knows what's best.”

Demery says he's not exactly sure what he'll do next, but says he is a police officer and he is going to police, because that's just what he does, regardless of where or how he serves.

He does have two more days to file an appeal with the Civil Service Board.

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