BATON ROUGE (CN) - A grandstanding police detective, seeking footage for a TV show, leveled baseless, defamatory accusations against a Navy officer involving the 28-year-old murder of the officer's former wife, the officer claims in court.
Joel Porter sued Baton Rouge police Det. John Dauthier in Federal Court, alleging false arrest, defamation and constitutional violations.
Porter says in the lawsuit that in March 1985 he returned to his apartment after his night shift with the Post Office to find his wife, Denise Porter, murdered.
Porter says he cooperated with police officers assigned to the case, no arrests were made and the case was never solved.
Porter eventually remarried, earned a Master's of Divinity degree from a Baptist seminary, a Juris Doctorate from Southern University, and was commissioned as a Judge Advocate General with the Navy. He says in the lawsuit.
On March 7, 2013, Porter says, Dauthier called him and said the case of his former wife's murder was reopened and there was a warrant for a sample of Porter's DNA.
Dauthier insisted on coming to Porter's home to collect the sample, Porter says, though Porter told him he would drive to the police station and be there in 15 minutes to have it done, "because he wanted a witness present when the DNA sample would be taken. Dauthier responded by saying that he was going to take the DNA sample on his terms," according to the lawsuit.
Porter claims that he decided to contact his friend, (nonparty) Steve Irving, and drive to Irving's office immediately.
The 15-page lawsuit never refers to Irving as an attorney, only as Porter's friend, though there is an attorney Steve Irving in Baton Rouge.
On the way to Irving's office, Porter says, he "was pulled over by approximately 5 City Police units with Dauthier in a black unmarked unit."
Swarmed by police, Porter says, he was asked if he had a weapon, and Dauthier took the cheek swab as they stood on the shoulder of Interstate 10.
Dauthier then refused to talk with Porter on several occasions, and would only talk with Irving, Porter says in the complaint.
Finally, "On March 19, 2013, Dauthier informed Steve that he was in the process of filming a Crime Stoppers segment for the purpose of presenting Denise's case to the viewing public in an attempt to bring awareness to the crime and to solicit information," the complaint states.
Porter claims that he provided Dauthier with names of witnesses who could confirm that he was working when his wife was killed, and that "Dauthier, in one of his emails to Steve confirmed that 28 years ago, the file documented that Joel was at work at the time of Denise's death and that he (Joel) had an alibi."
Porter adds: "In a communication with Steve, Dauthier acknowledged the fact that Joel had alibi witnesses from 28 years ago but that he (Dauthier) just doesn't believe it. ...
"Even after the DNA sample, which was taken from Joel on the side of the I-10, failed to provide a match to the aforementioned 'key pieces of evidence,' Dauthier has stubbornly refused to be instructed by the evidence (or the lack thereof) and instead has insisted on harassing Joel by disingenuously and maliciously an investigation that he (Dauthier) knows has no basis in evidence." (Parentheses in complaint.)
Finally, Porter claims: "Having exhausted all rational/plausible lines of investigatory inquiry, Dauthier, out of frustration, began to perniciously feed his media sources with certain half-truths and outright lies with the ultimate purpose of fanning the flames of rumor and suspicion. Specifically Dauthier has communicated defamatory statements and innuendos to WAFB Channel 9 (Crime Stoppers) and Jim Mustian, Staff Writer for the [Baton Rouge] Advocate.
"Dauthier, in a communication to Jim Mustian, staff writer for the Advocate, falsely accused Joel of running from the police when they came to take the DNA swab from
Joel at his (Joel's) office. In fact, Joel invited Dauthier to accompany him to the office, where he could take the DNA sample in a private setting. On the same day, Steve invited Dauthier to the office and Dauthier refused, stating that he did not want to talk to Joel until the results of the DNA tests came back.
"Dauthier, on information and belief, provided false and misleading information in a sworn affidavit to 19th Judicial District Judge Michael Ervin in order to obtain the search warrant, which Dauthier used to procure the DNA sample that he took from Joel on March 7, 2013." (Parentheses in complaint.)
Porter seeks damages and punitive damages for false arrest, defamation, constitutional violations, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
He is represented by Elton Heron of Geismar, La.