By Kiran Chawla | Unfiltered With Kiran | February 23, 2022
A Baton Rouge Police Officer has violated policy twice in two years. The latest one involves the officer admitting to falsifying military orders to take off work. But his discipline appears to be regressive instead of progressive.
Is there disparate discipline or preferential treatment when it comes to certain officers within the Baton Rouge Police Dept.? It’s been the subject of numerous investigations by Unfiltered with Kiran.
Now, another case has surfaced that may have the appearance of even more disparate discipline. A recent investigation resulted in an officer disciplined far below BRPD’s own guidelines for serious disciplinary infractions.
Officer Stefan Jones was found to have forged military orders in the form of a letter from the United States Army to defraud BRPD, but only received a slap on the wrist, a 4-day suspension. Plus, this is not the officer’s first time violating BRPD policy.
In Dec. 2019, Jones was seen on his body camera using his taser to threaten college students and repeatedly using foul language including the “n“ word. Despite his captain sending a direct email to BRPD Chief Murphy Paul, Jones was only suspended for 12 days for that incident. (More on that further below)
Fast forward to August 2021, Jones attempted to receive paid time off from his police officer job, telling his supervisors he had “drill” for the US Army in Alabama from Aug. 27-29, 2021. According to documents obtained by Unfiltered with Kiran, Jones told his supervisor verbally on Aug. 26, 2021 that he was to report to drill the next day. Caught by surprise at the request, his supervisor told him he needed to provide military orders to qualify for the time off, but Jones did not have it readily available. Instead, he opted to take “sick time” for the weekend. But because several other officers had already requested off for Aug. 27th, Jones was told he would be required to provide a doctor’s note when he returned.
However, when Jones did go back to work, he said he had a sick note for his supervisors but was told he had to turn it into Health & Safety. Jones said he did not turn it into Health & Safety and still had it in his possession. It’s why Officer Jones was then ordered by his supervisor to provide proof that he was at drill while he was off from BRPD. That is when Jones forged a “letter” from the US Army.
The letter was made to appear as if it was from the Department of the Army with a Dept. of Defense seal. It was titled “Memorandum for Foxtrot Company 4-323d Regiment Personnel.” It read:
“On the dates of Aug. 27-29 SGT Jones was to report to Montgomery Alabama to our Battalion Headquarters in regards to our MUTA & Drill Weekend. SGT Jones was needed in attendance due to his position as 4-323rd as SUPPLY Sergeant. SGT Jones is in charge of all our equipment.
Please accept this MEMO as an excuse for SGT Jones’s absence on the following dates. SGT Jones will provide any upcoming drill dates and will keep you informed if Drill dates move or shift.”
According to BRPD documents, Jones said the reason he told supervisors about the “drill” the day before he was scheduled to arrive was because “…it was originally up in the air whether he was to report due to it possibly being canceled due to Hurricane Ida and Covid. He stated he was just told that they wanted him in on Friday for the weekend.” Plus, Jones wanted Aug. 27th off because he had “personal stuff going on.
Unfiltered with Kiran is told Jones’ supervisor called the Army and was told the unit Jones said he had drill for had been deactivated at least eight months prior and that the letter was fake. Another questionable part was that the letter had no official signature from anyone at the unit or the Army.
It’s why his supervisors sent a letter up the chain about their suspicions. One of his supervisors said he did not even know that Jones was in the military. Two others said they had not received any military orders for the “drill.” One added that the last military paperwork he had from Jones was from Sept. 2020, nearly a year prior to the Aug. 2021 “drill.” The letter further advised “Jones would call in sick when he was supposed to be at work stating he was at drill and could not come in.” Plus, the same supervisor said he thought when Jones reported to drill, he was in the vicinity of Baton Rouge and that he was not aware of him ever having gone to Alabama in the past for drill.
Unfiltered with Kiran showed all the documents to the Metropolitan Crime Commission’s Rafael Goyeneche, a former prosecutor turned watchdog group.
“The motivation presenting these false orders was his financial benefit. He wanted to be paid for not coming to work and he did not want to use his sick or vacation time. The time it takes to prepare these fake orders shows you this wasn’t done on the whim. This was premeditated. He thought this through. Those orders took some time to put that document together. That’s not a note of a mom saying the dog ate my homework. This is official military looking documents presented to Baton Rouge Police,” said Goyeneche.
Because Jones supervisors sent the letter up the chain and to BRPD Chief Murphy Paul, Jones was investigated by BRPD’s Internal Affairs. During that investigation, BRPD pulled every military order Jones had filed since his employment with the Army in 2018. Jones’ commanding officer with the Army verified all the orders as valid except the one dated for Aug. 27-29, 2021.
When Jones asked if he reported to drill that weekend, he said he did not. That’s when he told BRPD investigators that his sergeant “kept ‘harassing’ him for military orders to prove that you needed the time off.” Jones further told investigators his supervisors gave him till the end of his shift on Sept. 4, 2021 (which was at 6am), to provide the orders from the military.
That’s when Jones admitted “it would be difficult to get anything done with the military on such short notice” and that Jones was “just trying to get them off his butt so he produced the document.” Jones said he “did not have military authority to create his own orders and that the document was not sent up the chain of command in the military.”
Jones recognized his commanding officer in the military would be able to tell the document was fake and his intention was never to deceive him or his BRPD supervisors. His intended purpose was to “provide them further documentation that you did not have” and that he “felt rushed because he was given a deadline of 0600 hours.”
Jones seemed to blame his supervisors that it was their fault he falsified a military order and they forced him to forge the letter. Internal Affairs looked at five specific violations for Jones but the chief only sustained two:
Abuse of sick leave (Not sustained)
Conduct unbecoming of an officer (Sustained)
Falsification of documents (Sustained)
Violation of laws (Not sustained)
Truthfulness (Not sustained)
“Of course it’s unbecoming of an officer to falsify documents. That’s payroll fraud. They sustained falsifying of documents but truthfulness wasn’t? Those documents were submitted as justification for him receiving paid time off to attend military duty and that was false meaning he was untruthful. During the course of this investigation, he admitted he submitted a false document,” said Goyeneche.
“I don’t know the thought process that went into 12 days and now you have falsifying documents and somehow through mental gymnastics, you determine it does not reflect on his truthfulness, that defies logic. Of course he was untruthful. In my opinion, this is another class 3 violation. If his last suspension was 12 days and now is 4 days, how could his discipline be regressive instead of progressive?” added Goyeneche.
Despite Jones’ admissions of falsifying a military order and the statements from the Army, Chief Paul only disciplined Jones with a 4-day suspension. Per their own policies, Jones should have been suspended for a minimum of 15 days. Policy violations are put into three categories or classes for BRPD. Class 1 is the least serious while a class 3 violation is the most egregious. The discipline for a class 3 violation can include termination. Per BRPD policies, if an officer gets a second class 3 violation within 3 years of his/her first class 3 violation, a minimum of 15 days suspension and up to termination is recommended.
This was Jones second time facing a class 3 policy violation within two years. Officer Jones was previously disciplined for an incident caught on his body camera from Dec. 2019 in Tigerland. Specifically, it was on Dec. 29, 2019 around 2am after LSU won against Oklahoma in the 2019 Peach Bowl. Jones was dispatched to the area for a possible fight and was found to have threatened people with his taser inappropriately and used excessive profanity including the n-word in a large crowd. His body camera captured the entire scene where Jones said things like: “Hey! Bro! Go the f*** home man! Damn! Go get some pussy or something bro! F***! For real bro. Like y’all trippin” 7/10 “I ain’t playing with n****s bro” “Bra, I’m about to beat his ass right here bro” “F***! Damn bro! Go get some ass man! Y’all n****s bullshitten. F***!”
What was seen on Jones video caught his then captain’s attention, who sent an email up the chain of command within BRPD, including directly to Chief Paul. According to BRPD documents, Jones admitted he was not trained to use his taser to intimidate and added he was using it to “gain compliance.” But internal affairs investigators said that Jones “…immediately unholstered your taser upon arriving at the scene, arced your taser on at least four occasions while on scene, threatened to use your taser on a subject, and followed a number of subjects as they were walking away from the scene while pointing your taser at them.” Jones violated three BRPD policies: Command of temper (Sustained) Conduct unbecoming of an officer (Sustained) 8/10 Carrying out orders (Sustained) In March 2020, Chief Paul ordered Jones be suspended for 15 days for that incident.
But after Jones agreed to not appeal the discipline and signed off on a consent agreement, his 15- day suspension was reduced to a 12-day suspension. The policy violation ‘Carrying out orders’ is a class 3 violation, the most serious. Add to that the most recent class 3 violation, falsification of documents, and the least amount of discipline for Jones should have been a 15-day suspension up to termination. Instead, he was given a 4-day suspension. So you decide, is there disparate discipline within BRPD?
“Not only is it disparate, it’s totally not logical. I could say the first incident was policy violations but this second one rises to violating the law. This is more serious and this is the second time he’s crossed the line,” said Goyeneche. “Within the department, Chief Paul undermines the credibility of himself as a leader of the Baton Rouge Police Department. It also undermines public confidence in the credibility of the police chief in particular and the department as a whole.”
Although Chief Paul did not sustain truthfulness, another class 3 violation, if someone falsifies documents, then they’re not being truthful. BRPD officers who violate ‘truthfulness’ are placed on the Brady list, a list District Attorney Hillar Moore keeps of officers who have serious problems with their integrity. That information is required to be reported to criminal defendants and their attorneys whenever the problem officer is involved in any way with their arrest. So, did Chief Paul properly inform District Attorney Hillar Moore about Officer Jones’ integrity issue?
“At this time, we have not received any documentation that would generate the inclusion of Stefan Jones in our police disclosure database. When we receive information regarding his recent discipline, we will conduct the necessary analysis of his conduct to determine if it mandates disclosure,” said Moore.
“He needs to be at the top of the Brady List. His integrity is zero. He has demonstrated he will break state law. How can that not reflect on his value as a credible witness in a criminal prosecution? He takes an oath to tell the truth and in an administrative setting, when it came 9/10 to getting his military leave, he was untruthful,” said Goyeneche.
Plus, a search of Jones’ social media platforms found a video on his Instagram with him using foul language including the ‘n’ word and pictures of him posing in his BRPD uniform as he announced the upcoming birth of his child. Could those be considered a violation of the social media policy? Other officers have been fired under Chief Paul’s reign for violating the social media policy and command of temper.
“I don’t understand this but I think the public is owed an explanation. I think this is why some officers feel there is a double standard with the department when it comes to discipline,” said Goyeneche.
Unfiltered with Kiran did reach out to Officer Jones and left a voicemail. So far, he has not responded. 10/10 Unfiltered with Kiran also sent an email to BRPD requesting a statement or interview with Chief Paul. As of this report, no one from the department has responded to the email.