Moses Black’s employment with Gonzales Police Department was terminated in December of 2016 “in a flippant and retaliatory manner” according to argument presented to Judge Jessie LeBlanc on Thursday. Gonzales PD’s countered that Black had “avoided the chain of command” in conducting an “unauthorized investigation” into ticket writing practices by another officer, risking “complete chaos in (Chief Sherman Jackson’s) department.” Judge LeBlanc took it all “under advisement” indicating she would decide Black’s employment fate within 30 days.
14 months into Moses Black’s federal lawsuit, filed separately from Thursday’s appellate proceeding of Gonzales Civil Service Board’s upholding of Chief Jackson’s decision to fire Black, and discovery is ongoing. Chris Alexander, representing Black in both proceedings, is preparing to depose Gonzales’ chief law enforcement officer in a case alleging many more serious allegations than those urged in the 23rd Judicial District (state) Court.
Alexander touched upon those federal court allegations without going into detail due to an earlier evidentiary ruling. Limited in scope, he asked Judge LeBlanc to grant his client relief short of reinstatement that would obviate Black’s termination and recorded disciplinary action that would hinder his ability to get a job with another law enforcement agency.
“Officer Black probably shouldn’t have asked about (the ticket writing practices),” Alexander conceded. “But discipline should have been proportionate to the offense.”
He cited laudatory performance evaluations and earlier testimony by two fellow officers, Black’s immediate superior and the suspected ticket-writing offender, to support the assertion that Black was “a stellar officer…a team player, honest, compliant with orders, trustworthy in difficult situations…”
“Why does Chief Jackson dislike Moses Black?” Alexander set up the claim that his client was disciplined more severely than other offending officers.
One of those officers was suspended briefly for inquiring into the same ticket-writing incident(s) for which Black was terminated. That suspension was overturned on procedural grounds. Other conduct not meriting termination (according to Chris Alexander):
- Beating a civilian which led to his death (no discipline);
- Discharge of service weapon in a strip club (three-day suspension);
- Driving While Intoxicated (two-day suspension).
No. 1 listed above is the incident involving one, Michael Banks, which Moses Black reported to Chief Jackson and other superior officers, a cause in which Black’s persistence is alleged to have been the real reason for his firing (See linked story linked above).
GPD’s attorney, Miranda Mumphrey, argued that Chief Jackson had never had to deal with “insubordination” like Moses Black’s “unauthorized investigation” so those comparisons are irrelevant.
“It is complete chaos in (Chief Jackson’s) department…when officers take it upon themselves to investigate other officers when the chief, whose call it is, shuts the investigation down,” Mumphrey asserted.