MPD Interim Chief Reggie Brown.JPG

Attorneys for former Monroe Police Cpl. Reggie Brown say the officer’s polygraph examination last fall showed “extreme deception” because he was exhausted and forced to take the exam or face termination.

Nathan Gordon, a polygraph expert, reviewing Brown’s answers during a polygraph examination conducted on Oct. 13, 2020—months after Brown’s stint as interim police chief ended—found the charts of Brown’s physiological responses to show “extreme deception.”

Brown’s attorneys—Carol Lexing of Monroe and Pamela Harper of Minden—questioned Gordon and suggested Brown’s physiological responses changed because of a lack of sleep and anxiety over being forced to take the exam or face termination.

Gordon testified as an expert witness in a hearing before the Monroe Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board on Tuesday.

The Civil Service Board is considering an appeal of now-Monroe Police Chief Victor Zordan’s decision to terminate Brown’s employment in November 2020.

In his letter terminating Brown’s employment, Zordan wrote that Brown intentionally waited until after the city’s mayoral election in July 2020 before asking Louisiana State Police to investigate an excessive force complaint against some of the department’s officers.

In April 2020, Timothy Williams complained that former Monroe Police Cpl. Jared DeSadier beat him and kicked him while he was lying on the ground and handcuffed during an arrest. DeSadier has since resigned from office and now faces felony charges of malfeasance in office and second-degree battery.

According to Zordan, Brown waited to act on Williams’ complaint for personal gain. Last year, Brown was serving as the department’s interim police chief under then-Mayor Jamie Mayo, who sought re-election. Brown did not forward Williams’ complaint to State Police until after Mayo lost the election to businessman Friday Ellis, according to Zordan. As mayor, Ellis removed Brown from the interim chief position and ultimately appointed Zordan.

The hearing Tuesday represented the first major hearing in Brown’s appeal, with numerous witnesses attending the hearing after receiving subpoenas to testify.

As of Tuesday evening when The Ouachita Citizen went to press, it was unknown how many days Brown’s appeal might last.

Of some 30 people issued subpoenas, most were released or discharged without having to give testimony. People expected to testify in Brown’s hearings included Ellis, Zordan, former Monroe Police Chief Eugene Ellis, Cecil Carter Jr., former Monroe City Attorney Nanci Summersgill, Fourth Judicial District Attorney Steve Tew, State Examiner Adrienne Bordelon, and others.

At the beginning of Tuesday’s hearing, Joshua Dara Jr., an attorney with the Alexandria law firm Gold Weems, made an opening statement on behalf of the city of Monroe.

“Despite all the twists and turns this appeal has taken, this is a straightforward situation,” Dara said. “The board’s only duty is to determine whether the city acted in good faith and for good cause when it made an employment decision about Mr. Brown.”

Dara argued it would be clear Brown delayed a criminal investigation for the mayoral election and later lied about it.

“That’s the good faith. That’s the good cause,” Dara said.

Lexing, who represented Brown, waived opening statements.

The city first called Cecil Carter Jr., who performed the polygraph examination of Brown last fall, to the witness stand. Carter is retired from the Shreveport Police Department and has conducted polygraph examinations for more than 30 years.

The polygraph examination, which reportedly lasted more than two hours, contained three relevant questions pertaining to the claims against Brown:

“Did you discuss with anyone about delaying sending the Williams case to LSP [Louisiana State Police] because of the 7/11/2020, City of Monroe Mayor Election?”

“Did anyone tell you to delay sending the Williams case to the LSP because of the 07/11/2020, City of Monroe Mayoral Election?”

“Did you delay sending the Williams case to the LSP because you didn’t want to send the Williams case to the LSP before the 07/11/2020, City of Monroe Mayoral Election?”

During the polygraph, Brown answered, “No,” to each of the three questions.

Carter said he reviewed the computer’s analysis of Brown’s physiological responses to the three questions and manually reviewed the charts as well.

“It said he was deceptive,” said Carter, speaking of the computer. “He failed all three questions.”

“Based on his answer, there’s no doubt,” Carter added later.

Brown’s attorneys asked the Civil Service Board to play the video recording of Brown’s polygraph examination during the hearing. On behalf of the city, Dara objected and argued it would be an inefficient use of time to watch a nearly three-hour video.

Harper, one of Brown’s attorneys, said, “We were never provided this video.”

Brown shook his head back and forth as if to say, “No,” whenever Dara claimed the video recording was previously provided to Brown.

Dara referred to a transcript of a previous hearing in which Brown was asked whether he received a copy of a recording of the examination. The transcript, as read by Dara, indicated Brown confirmed receiving a copy of the recording, though—on Tuesday—Brown continued shaking his head, “No.”

Steven Oxenhandler, an attorney with Gold Weems, said he was present when Brown was given a copy of the DVD.

“If they’re saying they didn’t get that, it’s untrue,” Oxenhandler said.

Brown continued to shake his head, “No.”

The Civil Service Board declined to play the video, though board member Craig Turner offered a copy of the DVD to Brown’s polygraph expert and attorneys so they could review the recording before any further hearings in Brown’s appeal.

During his testimony on Tuesday, Gordon said he performed a quality assurance review of Carter’s polygraph examination of Brown.

According to certain criteria, a rating of “minus six” was classified as deceptive. Brown’s responses were rated as “minus 34,” which indicated “extreme deception,” Gordon said.

The “probability this data was produced by a truthful person is less than 0.001,” stated Gordon’s report.

Gordon said his own algorithm found a 99.9 percent likelihood that Brown lied.

Lexing pointed out the Monroe Police Department’s policy said refusal to submit to a polygraph examination was grounds for termination. She suggested the policy was nothing less than coercion and that Brown’s physiological responses could have resulted from nervousness.

“He basically didn’t have any other option, correct?” Lexing said. “Based on those options, based on him facing termination, giving up his livelihood, would you agree with me that that might have some bearing on his physiological person?”

In answer to her arguments, Gordon said everyone was nervous when taking a polygraph test.

According to Gordon, taking a polygraph examination was similar to being dropped off in a bad neighborhood and instructed to walk two blocks. Such a person would be nervous but their fight or flight mechanism would still be activated if a stranger jumped out of an alley and yelled at them during their walk, he said.

“That physiological response still happens,” Gordon said.

According to Dara, the state Supreme Court previously ruled that public employees could be forced to submit to polygraph examinations.

“He has no choice, as for his public employment,” Dara said.

Earlier in the hearing, Carter testified that Brown willingly signed a consent form before proceeding with the polygraph examination.

Lexing also challenged the length of the questions asked of Brown during his polygraph examinations and argued the lengthy questions could produce uncertain physiological responses.

Lexing argued Brown had only three hours of sleep the night before the polygraph examination.

According to Gordon, a person’s fatigue would show a slow reaction to all questions, not simply a slow reaction to the three relevant questions about delaying the Williams investigation.

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