The former Golden Meadow assistant police chief resigned just days before the Town Council was to consider firing him, authorities said.
The Golden Meadow Town Council was scheduled to go into a closed session Thursday to discuss the possible firing of Charles Findley, a police officer and former assistant chief.
After receiving notice about the meeting, Findley opted to quit instead, Police Chief Reggie Pitre said.
“The officer was formally served a letter informing him that he was on the agenda for an upcoming meeting,” Pitre said. “A couple of days later the officer resigned.”
Although Pitre declined to discuss details about Findley’s dismissal, he said it was related to disciplinary measures.
“Louisiana law says anytime the council discusses any kind of behavior, disciplinary action or recommendations for punishment against a police officer, they have to notify them first,” Pitre said.
Golden Meadow Mayor Joey Bouziga declined to comment about Findley’s firing.
According to Findley’s Linkedin page, he had served with the Golden Meadow Police Department for about 10 years.
Findley’s name surfaced in a federal lawsuit filed in September against Pitre by a man who claimed his constitutional rights were violated during his arrest.
Jason Cortez, 38, filed suit in U.S. District Court alleging Pitre punched him and threw his wife to the ground by the neck.
Around midnight on Sept. 29, 2017, Cortez and his wife were at TK’s Sports Bar in Golden Meadow, authorities said. When Cortez began “acting drunk,” Pitre, who was also at the bar and dressed in civilian clothing, escorted him out.
According to Pitre’s account, Cortez “fell backwards over a monitor, when he fell he struck the chain-linked microphone stand, causing it to strike the lead singer of the band in the head. ... During the night I observed Jason’s level of impairment to be one where he couldn’t stand on his own and his balance was poor.”
After Pitre escorted Cortez out of the bar, the police chief punched him in the face, the lawsuit alleges. Cortez’s wife then intervened to “protect her husband from Chief Pitre’s assault.”
Pitre grabbed her by the neck and threw her to the ground, the lawsuit says.
“As a result of Pitre’s excessive force, Ms. Cortez’ leg was lacerated and her ring finger injured,” the lawsuit claims. “She has a permanent scar on her leg.”
Findley arrived at the scene and was told by the chief that Cortez had punched him twice in the face “with a closed fist,” according to the lawsuit.
Findley used a stun gun on Cortez twice before handcuffing him, authorities said.
Cortez was charged with battery on a police officer and resisting an officer and was booked at the Lafourche jail on a $75,000 bond, jail records show.
However, about a week later, Findley viewed security footage of the incident and “realized that Chief Pitre had lied to him – Jason had never actually struck Pitre with a closed fist. In fact, he discovered that Chief Pitre was the aggressor,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit says Pitre asked Findley to falsify his investigation and to say in his report that Pitre had not been drinking on the night of the incident.
“But Findley knew this to be a lie,” the lawsuit reads. “He had seen the video which showed Pitre drinking. Findley refused to lie or falsify his report.”
Neither of Findley’s reports had his signature or a notation that he refused to sign, and prosecutors ended up dropping the charges against Cortez because of “discrepancies with the evidence,” the lawsuit claims.
Pitre, who denied Cortez’s allegations, said Findley’s disciplinary proceeding and resignation were not related to the lawsuit.
--Staff Writer Dan Copp can be reached at 857-7639 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter@DanVCopp.
Posted on Fri, March 8, 2019
by By Dan Copp, Houma Today Staff Writer