Embattled Crowley police chief sued in federal court for allegedly retaliating against whistleblowers

Acadia Parish

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — Crowley Police Chief Allen James “Jimmy” Broussard is being sued by a pair of officers in federal court on claims that he retaliated against them for being whistleblowers into Broussard’s possible misconduct.

Sgt. Nicholas Penn and Capt. Tammy Mallet are suing Chief Broussard, the City of Crowley and the Crowley Police Department for damages and attorney fees, according to the lawsuit filed in federal court. The suit claims Broussard violated Louisiana’s whistleblower statute and the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. Both Penn and Mallet remain employees of the department.

A lawsuit only tells one side of a story.

Broussard is currently under indictment and has pleaded not guilty to four counts of malfeasance in office, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of attempted first-degree injuring of public records — all felonies.

The lawsuit alleges that in April 2020, Crowley Police Officer Ashley McElroy slammed a handcuffed suspect into a locker which such force that the suspect had a seizure. Sgt. Whitney Trey Broussard reported the incident to the department’s internal affairs division and sent a copy to his supervisor, Capt. Troy Hebert. The suit claims that such matters must be investigated within 14 days. Sometime after the 14 day-limit, Hebert finally brought the matter to Jimmy Broussard’s attention.

The lawsuit alleges that Jimmy Broussard did not send the report to the district attorney’s office and “ultimately decided to try and ignore the incident, encouraging and affirming to his officers that this type of malicious, criminal behavior against the citizens in custody was warranted, justified, ratified, and or otherwise supported by Chief Broussard.”

Shortly after, Hebert gave the report to the district attorney’s office himself after being “ignored” by the chief, according to the suit.

On Sept. 17, 2020, Capt. Hebert, Sgt. Penn and Capt. Mallet were among officers subpoenaed by the district attorney in reference to McElroy’s conduct. The suit says the trio provided numerous pieces of information and evidence to the district attorney regarding McElroy’s actions and other ongoing issues within the department. In October, Mallet also gave similar statements to the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office.

In December 2020, the suit said it was discovered that there were more than 200 cases not opened or followed-up by Det. Chad Gibson. Capt. Mallet reported this information to Chief Broussard.

In July 2021, Mallet and Penn were also involved in a situation in which Sgt. Jeffrey Braun failed to turn in case evidence. While the suit says Mallet and Penn attempted to take action to discipline Braun, no corrective action was taken by Chief Broussard.

The suit alleges Chief Broussard began to retaliate against the whistleblowers in various ways, including, but not limited to:

  • Stripping them of duties and changing their positions within the department. Mallet specifically was “removed from her patrol position and placed in the compliance and field training officers sections with little to no duties in an attempt to both restrict her ability to oversee patrol officers committing violations and to punish her financially by placing her in a position that does not allow overtime…” Those who had not spoken to the DA’s office or the sheriff’s office saw no change in their roles, the suit alleges. These changes were later undone prior to a Civil Service Hearing in April 2020.
  • Restricting the whistleblower officers’ sick leave time in violation of state civil service law. The changes did not affect those who had not spoken to the DA’s office or sheriff’s office.
  • Creating a hostile work environment in numerous ways against Mallet and Penn, including undercutting them when they tried to get other officers to follow departmental policy and law.
  • Allowing other officers to use company-wide emails to denigrate Mallet with no corrective action.
  • Filing criminal charges against Mallet and Penn for their involvement in Sgt. Braun’s evidence incident, while filing no charges against Braun.

The suit is asking the court for a jury trial.

You can read the entire complaint below.

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