Council president: LMPD chief should be on list of lying officers
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Metro Council President David James testified this week that police Chief Steve Conrad has repeatedly lied and should be on a list the department keeps that identifies problematic officers who have credibility issues.
James, who is a former LMPD officer, said Conrad belongs on the so-called Brady list, named after the “Brady law,” a 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says defendants must be told about potentially beneficial evidence in criminal cases, such as the trustworthiness of police officers.
The list, which some defense attorneys use to sow doubt about an officer's testimony in court, can often damage or even end an officer's career.
In a deposition this week, James told an attorney for the city that he doesn’t think Conrad is a good police chief, in part because of poor leadership, bad judgment and "the different times he has not told the truth on different occasions.”
James said Conrad has lied to him on several occasions, though he declined to offer specifics. However, James said Conrad lied in a whistleblower case brought by Officer Barron Morgan, who claimed he was demoted for helping a woman who was in prison for a murder she did not commit.
In 2014, Morgan won a $450,000 settlement against Louisville Metro government.
James did not say specifically what the chief lied about, saying only that Conrad "tried to help or keep a woman in prison for a murder she didn’t commit.”
James’ deposition was completed as part of a whistleblower lawsuit filed by LMPD Lt. Jimmy Harper, who claims he was demoted from his major rank as retaliation for raising concerns about the department’s management.
LMPD spokeswoman Jessie Halladay said the department doesn't have "any comment as this is a pending legal matter and it would be inappropriate for us to comment."
A spokesman for Mayor Greg Fischer said in a statement:
"These are very serious allegations being made by an elected official against the Chief of Police. For him to maintain any credibility he must produce the evidence behind these allegations immediately."
James also said the chief surrounds himself with “yes people” and does not want to hear the truth.
“It's pretty obvious from what happened to Major Harper that Chief Conrad doesn’t appreciate the truth and who tells the truth, and officers are aware of that,” James testified Monday.
Conrad removed Harper from the high-ranking position of major as part of department-wide reorganization last year.
But Harper claims he was demoted after he told Conrad that he had concerns about the chief’s leadership and also informed some Metro Council members about those issues.
The Jefferson County Attorney’s Office has already filed a motion asking a judge to keep James’ testimony about Conrad out of Harper’s trial, arguing, “not only is this opinion evidence, it is an opinion James is not qualified to give.”
Assistant County Attorney Peter Ervin also wrote that the James’ testimony could be “highly inflammatory.”
Conrad started the Brady list policy locally in 2013, adding more than two dozen officers whose conduct could be problematic, and their disciplinary issues were turned over to prosecutors.
Also as part of the policy, Conrad put the department's 1,200 officers on notice that any violations involving untruthfulness "will likely lead to termination from this department."
In a 2013 interview with WDRB News, Conrad said he was taking a harder line on lying than his predecessors, in part, because of the recent change in policy.
"We now have a number of officers who when they testify have to explain that situation in the past," he said at the time. "I just don't want to have to deal with this again. Our credibility is important. It affects the community's trust in us."
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