Last week we told you about Cat Lafitte, the police officer fired for getting into a brawl with a Plano hospital orderly and bragging about it on Facebook. Lafitte filed a complaint with the city's Ethics Advisory Commission, alleging that her superiors had created a hostile work environment and then willfully ignored her mental health crisis, even as she begged them for help.
The commission met last week for a preliminary review of the allegations. Not surprisingly, Lafitte's superiors, including police Chief David Brown and and Assistant Chief Vince Golbeck, had a different story to tell. In "confidential" documents provided to Unfair Park by Lafitte, they tell the commission that Lafitte was offered and declined mental health treatment and they imply that her firing was the result of a host of other issues, with the Plano brawl as the final straw.
In an internal departmental memo attached to his statement, Brown writes that Lafitte was scheduled to appear before a disciplinary board for the Plano incident but left town instead, saying she had nonrefundable airline tickets. In a brief statement to the ethics board, he also states that after her firing, she was given an opportunity to appeal the decision but failed to show up for that hearing either. Another of Lafitte's superiors, Lieutenant Archie King, writes that Lafitte was given several opportunities to get counseling after the fight, but refused all of them:
Ms. Lafitte was provided with information on how to access counseling services by me the day she assaulted the nurse in the Plano hospital. I followed up our conversation concerning counseling services but Ms. Laffite was belligerent to the solutions offered. ...
I believe my actions and those of the other members of the department were always focused on trying to help Ms. Laffite but that she sabotaged those efforts by refusing to help herself.
The DPD officers also deny Lafitte's allegations that she was forced to work a 38-hour shift over Super Bowl weekend, saying she could have submitted a request to opt out of overtime work. They also deny that she was forced to work a night shift even though she's a single mother, saying she was given adequate time to find childcare before the schedule change began.
Lafitte maintains that her superiors are trying to retroactively cover themselves and that counseling help King offered was insufficient.
"He called me with a damn 1-800 number," she says. "I called him right back and said, 'I can't function. I can't handle a 1-800 number. I mean, if somebody was butt-naked screaming their head off in the middle of the street, would you offer them an 800 number?'"
Lafitte didn't quite make it to the naked-in-the-street phase, she says, but adds that her crisis should have been obvious and the help more aggressive.
"Nobody helped me," she maintains. "They left me on my own, and then they fired me."
Moments ago, Lafitte emailed us with another update: the Ethics Advisory Commission has released its findings from the preliminary review and is dismissing all of Lafitte's complaints, stating that the statue of limitations has already expired. Lafitte told us she'll appear before DPD's pension board next, where she's seeking mental disability compensation.
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