The Minden Civil Service Board reinstated Minden Police Officer Shawn Griffith, Thursday evening, due to a lack of due process. However, explosive testimony erupted during the meeting, with Griffith and others accusing Minden District A City Councilman Herbert Taylor of being responsible for the Facebook posts that lead to Griffith’s dismissal from the department.
Griffith was reinstated effective immediately due to the fact that he was not read the Police Officer’s Bill of Rights.
“I am prepared to go forward and show you that my client was not read his Officer’s Bill of Rights which is in violation of Police Officer’s Bill of Rights which applies to all Police Officers in Louisiana, whether you’re civil service or not,” said Defense Attorney Pamela Breedlove.
While she believed this would be enough grounds to reinstate Griffith, Breedlove also provided a body of evidence she claimed to show that Griffith had never made the Facebook posts related to his termination. Instead, the claim was made that these posts were faked and that the one responsible was City Councilman Herbert Taylor of District A.
The main evidence for this was that of four witness testimonies coming from Mayor Terry Gardner, Police Chief Steve Cropper, KTBS Freelance Journalist Tiffany Flournoy, and Officer Shane Griffith, all claiming that they heard a three-way phone call between Flournoy, Griffith, and Taylor where Taylor admitted to being responsible for the posts.
“We have now been able to establish what we were arguing all along. He didn’t make these posts. I’m prepared to present this information to the board so that you can feel confident in your reversal, whether you reverse it on the merits or you reverse it on the violation of the Bill of Rights because he didn’t do this and he would like the opportunity to clear his name with you, and with everybody else, because this has been hard on him,” said Breedlove.
Officer Shane Griffith, Shawn’s brother, was one of the witnesses to take the stand. During his testimony, Griffith claimed that during a conversation with Councilman Taylor, he said “the two officers from the Minden Police Department had contacted (Tiffany Flournoy) in regard to the post, and then she had contacted (Taylor), and that’s the way he came about all of it.”
He also claimed that they had, “Talked, on the phone several times, where (Taylor) encouraged me to sue the city and said that he would help me sue the city and that he also would also want 25% of what I got in return.”
Later in his testimony, Griffith talked about meeting and speaking with Flournoy after Taylor had led him to believe that she was the one who had shared with him the incriminating Facebook posts.
“In a later meeting, Mrs. Flournoy came up to me. She tried to speak to me and I didn’t have a whole lot to say to her based on what Councilman Taylor had said. After the meeting, she asked what I was upset about. She said that Taylor had contacted her, and she actually had recorded him saying some things. What I mentioned earlier, he said that all to her, she had the recording, and she wanted to present that to the Chief and the Mayor,” said Griffith.
Griffith then claimed that this led to a meeting between Flournoy, Griffith, Police Chief Steve Cropper, and Minden Mayor Terry Gardner, which took place in the Chief’s Office. While this meeting was taking place, it just so happened that Taylor then decided to give Flournoy a call.
“While we were in that meeting, Councilman Taylor called Mrs. Flournoy. We were all sitting there together. She put him on speakerphone and immediately she started telling him, ‘I don’t appreciate being told what you told Shane about me, and he was untruthful about it.’ (Taylor) said, ‘I know I am, I’m going to call him right now on three-way.’ We didn’t want him to know she was in the office so she walked out in the hallway,” said Griffith,
“He immediately said, ‘Shane, I was untruthful about that. I’m responsible for this. It was all on me. I’m responsible for the Facebook posts. I did it.’ That was said in front of Mrs. Flournoy, Chief Cropper, and the Mayor.”
Chief Cropper and Mayor Gardner were later brought up as witnesses to confirm that they had heard what Taylor said in the three-way conversation.
When Cropper was asked by Breedlove if he had overheard the conversation between Taylor, Griffith, and Flournoy, he confirmed that he had. “In that conversation did (Taylor) admit to being responsible for these Facebook posts?” asked Breedlove. “Yes, ma’am, he did,” said Cropper. “So you would agree that Officer Shawn Griffith needs to come back to work?” asked Breedlove. “Yes, I do,” responded Cropper.
Then, Gardner was brought up as a witness to confirm the event as well. “You heard Councilman Taylor say he was responsible for those posts?” asked Breedlove. “I did,” responded Gardner. “And do you want the board to reinstate officer Griffith?” asked Breedlove. “Yes, I do,” responded Gardner. “Do you want the city to appeal their reinstatement?” asked Breedlove. “No,” said Gardner. “I have no further questions,” said Breedlove.
At this time Adam Bradley of the Civil Service Board asked Councilman Taylor, who was present in attendance if he would like to have the opportunity to defend himself. “I think there have been a lot of things said and I wanted to give you the opportunity to defend yourself if you wanted to,” said Bradley. “I would love to,” responded Taylor.
Taylor confirmed that he had met with Griffith and made the three-way phone call that was brought up earlier, but he denied that he admitted to being responsible for the Facebook posts.
“Me admitting to making the post myself, that’s strictly false. And a lot of things Shane Griffith said were untrue, and I have proof.” Taylor then agreed to show the board proof of when he had initially received the photo.
After some time had passed, it appears Taylor could not locate the proof he was looking for on his phone, but he did say, “The original source was Juliuna Anderson, and she just told me to tell the truth, tell them where I got the posts from.”
“But you don’t have the posts with you?” asked Bradley. Taylor responded, “I don’t have the original posts, but I was never Shane or Shawn’s friend on Facebook, so I could never get the posts, to begin with. It was a screenshot and sent to me.”
“You also encouraged Officer Shane Griffith to sue the city, didn’t you?” asked Breedlove to Taylor. “No, I did not encourage him to sue the city, and I didn’t say anything about any kind of compensation,” said Taylor.
Shane then presented a recorded conversation where he claimed that Taylor recommended that he sue the city. They attempted to play the recording over the microphone, though it was difficult to make out the full conversation. Taylor was then asked what he said in the phone call.
“He asked what would I do if I were in his situation. And I said, why try to come back if I can try and get compensated. If I can get compensated and go somewhere else and work.”
When asked if he agreed if that’s what he said in the recording, Shane Griffith said, “Taylor said [expletive deleted], compensate me somehow or another.” “That ain’t what I said,” responded Taylor.
Taylor then stated that people had already admitted that the Facebook posts were real and that Griffith posted them.
“It was said by the Chief that the officer had brought it back to him some years ago, and he had asked an officer about it, and he said they just never said anything about it,” said Taylor.
Breedlove then asked, “The post that Officer Shane Griffith admitted to having put on his Facebook. Isn’t it true that the only posts he admitted to was putting the picture of people beating on the police cars…” “And the monkeys,” said Taylor. “Yes and the monkeys. I will tell you that that was right around the time there had been several police officers killed. It didn’t have anything to do with race, he was upset about the officers being killed,” said Breedlove.
After a short five minute recess, KTBS News Freelance Journalist Tiffany Flournoy was brought to the stand and also confirmed the three-way telephone conversation that took place between herself, Griffith, and Taylor. “In that conversation did he admit that he was responsible for this?” asked Breedlove. “Yes he did,” said Flournoy.
The final witness was none other than Shawn Griffith himself, who testified that he did not make the Facebook posts, and also that he was not read his Officer’s Bill of Rights.
“These posts that were sent around, did you do them?” said Breedlove. “No ma’am,” said Griffith.
“Before you were terminated did anybody read you your Police Officer’s Bill of Rights?” asked Breedlove. “No ma‘am, I wasn’t even aware there was such a thing,” responded Griffith. There was no evidence presented by the City Attorney Charles Minnifield to counter these claims, given that he chose to abstain from the meeting altogether.
The Civil Service Board then brought the reinstatement of Shawn Griffith to a motion. “I make the motion that Officer Michael Shawn Griffith be reinstated back to the same position he was, all back pay due to him, effective immediately,” said Keith King of the Civil Service Board. “I’ll second that motion, for reasons of Mr. Minnifield has declined to show any evidence of why he should’ve been fired in the first place. And also whenever it was brought up by Mrs. Breedlove that the Bill of Rights was violated, he also decided not to argue that point as well. So I’ll second that,” said Bradley.
Theron Winzer abstained from the vote. The remaining four voted unanimously to reinstate Officer Shawn Griffith.