Shreveport Police detective Rod Demery took the stand in Caddo Parish court Tuesday afternoon to answer questions on the charges against former Shreveport firefighters Clint Richardson, 27, and Randy Chandler, 51.
In the preliminary hearing, lawyers covered the allegations against each man, why some interrogations where recorded while others were not, and what acts were included in the cruelty charge.
Richardson worked on the SFD Station 8 A-Shift when he and his coworkers Derrick Harris, Billy Glass and Jason Vaughan were arrested and each charged with cruelty to the infirm and principal to prostitution.
Investigators say the A-Shift firefighters paid a woman to have sex with a mentally disabled man on June 14 in the Station 8 bathroom. During their investigation of this one alleged misdeed, police report that they uncovered a long-term relationship -- sometimes caring, sometimes complicated -- between the firefighters and two disabled men who hung around their Velva Street station.
KTBS 3 News has previously reported on the six week gap between the June 14 incident and the day SPD was notified of the allegations July 31.
"Time is important here, I think," prosecuting attorney Dale Cox said as Demery sat on the stand.
Demery said Shreveport police were only notified of any allegations after Fire Chief Craig Mulford barred FBI Special Agent Kyle Roberts and Louisiana State Police Sgt. Jay Perry from interviewing a witness on Fire Department property.
"They could have taken Mulford to jail but they didn't," Demery said.Related Article: SFD releases timeline for firefighter misconduct investigation
During cross-examination, Richardson's attorney, Peter Flowers questioned if that was truly the department's first information about the alleged prostitution. Flowers says an officer was present on June 14 and was aware of the plan to buy a prostitute.
Demery said he knew an officer frequently visited Station 8 after seeing photographs of her patrol car posted to Harris' Facebook account.Related Article: Questionable images surface on Fire Captain's Facebook page
Demery said the officer who drove the pool car numbered 532 was dating Glass at the time. Demery said the police officer did know some of the details -- and noted the presence of another female during a Station 8 visit -- which prompted Flowers to ask why the officer wasn't arrested when the firefighters were.
"If that police officer had provided in writing that she was there, she'd be in jail," Demery said.
"He made it clear she was aware of this incident a month before the police started their investigation or got wind of it, and to my knowledge nothing has happened to her," Flowers says. "She's still on the job."
Demery said he believes the officer is still on duty and says he was told Internal Affairs is handling her case.
Flowers asked questions about the interview procedure and why some suspects' interviews were recorded while others were not.
Demery says it is SPD's policy to record interviews, but the FBI traditionally does not. He says the first interviews were conducted at the FBI Shreveport office. Richardson and Glass' interviews were not recorded. Demery says they began recording interviews starting with Capt. Derrick Harris' interrogation.
Both Flowers and Randy Chandler's attorney, Natasha Painter, took time to portray the information in Demery's arrest warrant affidavits as misleading.
Flowers specified the passage in which his client admits to burning the prostitute's phone number after learning of the law enforcement investigation: "Richardson said after the investigation began, he personally burned the prostitute's telephone number."
Flowers said the affidavit makes it appear that Richardson was trying to destroy evidence. Demery said when questioned by police, Richardson said he did so at the woman's request. She told Richardson and investigators that the disabled man had called her repeatedly since the two met June 14.
The acts outlined in the arrest warrant affidavit for Chandler only pertain to one of the two men who frequently hung out at Station 8. The documents state Chandler served dog food to the man, locked him in a Station 8 closet and threw his hat into an ant hill before the man put it back on his own head.
Demery noted that some of the alleged behaviors were likely mimicked only after the disabled man did them on his own first.
After the preliminary examination concluded, Cox asked the judge for additional charges against Richardson including simple rape, conspiracy to commit simple rape, sexual battery of the infirm and conspiracy to commit simple rape. Judge Ramona Emanuel found there was not enough probable cause to support those charges.
Emanuel did uphold each man's felony charge of cruelty to the infirm and principal to prostitution for Richardson.
Harris, Glass and Vaughan each waived his opportunity to the preliminary examination. The defendants have pleaded not guilty.Related Article: A comprehensive look at Station 8 allegations
The parties are scheduled to appear in court again Jan. 27, 2014, for arguments and hearings. More testimony is expected at that time.
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