Council members react to whirlwind of accusations involving the chief, mayor and council president

Accusations fly between Louisville city council president, police chief and mayor
Published: Aug. 3, 2018 at 4:45 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2018 at 5:18 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - City Council Members are reacting to a whirlwind of accusations involving LMPD Chief Steve Conrad, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Metro Council President David James.

Friday, city attorneys accused James of collusion. In relation to demoted Major, Jimmy Harper's whistleblower case, James testified Friday that Conrad was part of a previous criminal investigation revolving around the theft of overtime money.

Some council members showed support for David James and were surprised that the city accused James of collusion.

Councilman James Peden believes Fischer and Chief Conrad are in damage control mode.

>>> PREVIOUS STORY: David James says LMPD chief has been 'untruthful'

"The Chief's office and the Mayor's office run interference," Councilman James Peden said. "In general, whether its manpower issues, budgetary issues, specifics of the Harper case and his demotion...the police chief, the mayor and the county attorney form a triumvirate of untruth and you can't get any truth from them."

"David James is free to draw any conclusions and seek any justice he wants," Councilman Brent Ackerson said. "His job is to seek the truth. He's only required to be honest and he should be allowed to seek that truth."

Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton also supported the Council President, stating that if it wasn't for James, the information about Conrad's past would not have been revealed.

"I don't think David James has done anything out of any kind of collusion," Hamilton said. "I think they are scrambling and they know this trial is coming up next week and they haven't prepared and haven't taken seriously what they've done to Harper and his reputation."

Councilwoman and Mayoral Candidate Angela Leet told us, "It seems like there's a pattern of behavior, that if you speak up, be prepared to be attacked and if you're a victim don't expect to be protected."

"Let's not forget that James is a retired officer and an elected official, but instead of focusing on the current state, with a whistleblower lawsuit and the Explorer case, you go on the attack," she said of Fischer. "The truth needs to come out and if there's more layers to peel back, then we need to," she said.

Councilman Kevin Kramer told us that he couldn't imagine how James bringing up concerns about the police chief would be considered political. "James suggested that there were things worth taking a look at," Kramer said. "The Mayor asked for proof, and now all of a sudden after James provides the proof, he's the bad guy?"

Kramer stated James, like Fischer is a Democrat and that James is not running for re-election. Kramer questioned the Mayor's claims that James was acting for the sake of politics.

WAVE 3 News also reached out to several other council members, both democratic and republican to get their thoughts.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and LMPD Chief Steve Conrad called allegations of Conrad being untruthful "a political jab."

Mayor Greg Fischer's strongly worded statement came first on Friday afternoon:

"This attack on Chief Conrad's integrity is nothing but a bitter, nasty political ploy aimed at distracting the public from the real, positive work happening in our city. Rather than focusing on the verifiable progress that LMPD is making to curb violence in our city, political opponents would rather reach back more than 20 years to twist one instance of someone acknowledging a mistake into a political jab. It's well past time we say enough to this political gaming and to those who perpetrate it. Chief Conrad has my full and complete confidence. We will continue to work the plan we have put in place, and we encourage everyone – citizens, city employees and officials alike – to get involved in working together to support our police and continue to improve public safety."

During an emergency hearing Friday in the whistleblower case filed by demoted Major, Jimmy Harper, new information was revealed about LMPD Chief Steve Conrad and a previous accusation that he'd lied about receiving overtime money.

Metro Council President David James testified to the information under oath. He stated Conrad was in trouble in 1998 and was deemed to have been "untruthful" for fudging earned overtime and was even suspended. The city's attorney argued Conrad made a "correction" to his statements to his superiors within 24 hours. James responded it wasn't a correction, but a completely different statement.

In a Facebook post, Conrad admitted that he was part of the investigation.

WAVE 3 News asked LMPD if the chief would release the file in order for the public to see for itself. They declined to release the documents Friday claiming our station has already submitted open records requests.

However our requests for documents relating to Conrad and a merit board or civil service board hearing were denied last week. The city claimed no hearing documents exist. WAVE 3 News has now re-submitted other requests asking for any documents, regardless of a hearing, related to the investigation.

We were also denied a similar open records request for the merit board hearing documents of another officer who was involved.

Harper's whistleblower trial was supposed to start next week, but Friday morning, city attorneys filed a motion to delay it, claiming they needed more time to ask James about his claims that Conrad has lied in the past.

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Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer publicly demanded James provide proof of the claims the Council President made against Conrad in a deposition two weeks ago. Thursday, James delivered a binder of information to Fischer filled with several examples of Conrad allegedly lying, including some examples of when Conrad was under oath.

In the motion filed by city attorneys, they claimed James was colluding with Harper days before the trial.

James responded that the information was asked for by the mayor himself. He also stated that his purpose for his statements was to show the mayor and the public that Conrad should not be chief.

Harper's attorney, Thomas Clay, told the judge the information presented to the mayor by James has been public record and that some of it had already been brought up during depositions.

Weeks ago, the city filed a Motion of Limine to block James from testifying about Conrad's credibility during the Harper trial. The judge granted that motion citing case law which prohibits testimony about an individual's credibility to be brought up in a civil suit. Because of that, on Friday the Judge denied the city's motion to delay the trial. It is still on schedule to begin Tuesday.

The back-and-forth between James and the city's attorney became heated at times.

The city's attorney seemed to already have been aware of Conrad's 1998 case.

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WAVE 3 News does not know when Fischer learned of the 1998 case.

After James' public deposition and accusations of Conrad being untruthful two weeks ago, WAVE 3 News also submitted open records request asking for copies of Conrad's complete personnel file to include previous suspensions and any documents related to any previous merit board hearings.

LMPD responded to our request for Conrad's file by providing 14 letters of commendation. WAVE 3 News is waiting for more complete copies of his file from other city agencies.

However, Conrad stated in his Facebook response that the documents related to the investigation were removed from his file because he was cleared of wrong-doing. James claimed he was cleared because of a technicality.

Both Harper's attorney and James have said Conrad belongs on the so-called "Brady" list. The list is of problematic cops who have been found to be untruthful in the past. The list is used by attorneys and prosecutors to discredit those officers during proceedings.

Fischer's spokesperson did not answer our request for an interview with the mayor.

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