Thibodaux, La. - Calling it a witch hunt, Thibodaux Councilwoman Constance Johnson wants investigators outside Lafourche Parish to look into the Thibodaux Police Department.
"It appears to have been a conspiracy, yes, a conspiracy to falsely accuse a 20-year veteran that has served under six previous chiefs and three mayors," she says.
Johnson held a press conference Monday with State Senator Troy Brown and members of the NAACP. She says Thibodaux Police Captain Calvin Cooks has been unfairly accused of involvement in two tire-slashing incidents at the department.
Cooks recently filed a lawsuit against Thibodaux Mayor Tommy Eschete, Police Chief Scott Silverii, former councilman Varick Taylor and others, accusing them of defamation and slander. The suit says the men all made claims that Cooks played a role in the slashing of dozens of police unit tires in 2011.
Lafourche sheriff's investigators arrested Jonathan Watkins and his uncle, Glenn Watkins, for slashing the tires. Both suspects claimed Cooks paid them to do it but sheriff's investigators couldn't find any evidence to support those allegations.
The lawsuit claims Cooks was made the target of a political conspiracy because he refused to contribute to Varick Taylor's 2006 City Council race. It says the mayor, police chief and other members of the department made false statements about Cooks being involved with the tire-slashing, hurting his reputation.
City attorney Beau Brooks issued this statement:
The City of Thibodaux was recently served with a lawsuit alleging the defamation of character of one of our current employees. I have advised the Mayor and Chief of Police to not comment on any pending lawsuit or the specific allegations being made within the petition filed.
We categorically deny that there is any truth to the allegations made against the Mayor, Chief Scott Silverii and many employees of the Thibodaux Police Department. We will aggressively defend the integrity of the administration, the police department and outstanding and dedicated men and women of law enforcement who put their lives on the line for our citizens each and every day.