Cop Fired For Posting About Her "Jerry Springer-Style" Brawl On Facebook Files An Ethics Complaint Against DPD

Categories: City Hall, Crime

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"That's right," Cat Lafitte wrote in an email to the Observer about a month ago. "I'm the idiot Facebook cop."

If you don't remember Cat Lafitte's name, you may remember her actions: She was one of three police officers fired in June 2011 for violating department policy. Lafitte's offenses, according to DPD? Getting into a physical fight with a hospital orderly in a Plano ER, then posting comments about it on her Facebook page that, in the words of the department's press release, would "by their nature have a tendency to adversely affect, lower or destroy public respect and confidence in the Dallas Police Department." In the press release announcing her firing, Lafitte was also faulted for being absent without leave for a week and violating DPD's sick leave policy.

Now, Lafitte has filed an ethics complaint against DPD Chief David Brown, Assistant Chief Vincent Golbeck and another five of her superior officers, as well as Assistant City Manager A.C. Gonzalez. The Ethics Advisory Commission is set to conduct a preliminary review of her complaints on Friday morning.

In an interview with Unfair Park several weeks ago, Lafitte alleged that her superiors within DPD created a hostile work environment, worked her to the point of exhaustion and delirium, then refused to offer her adequate mental healthcare, no matter how much she begged. Lafitte also says that after the fight with the orderly in Plano -- which she maintains he started -- she spent a week asking her DPD superiors to help her find mental health treatment and was ignored, although the department did find time to talk to the press about her Facebook postings.

"It was excruciating," she said, her eyes welling up. "I was begging for help. ... There is no mental healthcare for police officers."

Lafitte says that in 2011 she'd been happily employed by DPD for six years. "I loved it," she said. "I loved the variety and the action. I'm a total adrenaline junkie and a problem-solver." But over several weeks in February, she says a number of things went wrong: She injured her knee during a play-fight with her partner. She found out DPD was denying a request she'd put in to transfer to another station and that she was being put on a graveyard shift, although as a single mother, she wouldn't be able to find childcare. And she and her partner worked nearly 38 hours straight on very little sleep over Super Bowl weekend, during a time when Lafitte says she was ill with walking pneumonia, for which she'd been taking steroids. Lots of steroids.

Lafitte says she visited the Plano ER to get treatment for her injured knee; while she and a friend were waiting to see a doctor, she was making a series of phone calls to her superiors and the Fraternal Order of Police about her denied request to transfer to another station. What she didn't realize until later, she says, was that all of her phone calls sounded completely insane.

"I was making crazy phone calls and sending crazy texts," she told us. The nurse took her blood pressure and Lafitte, a former nursing assistant, realized it was dangerously high. Later, Lafitte realized she was probably having a reaction to the steroids, but at the time, as she put it, "all my focus was on yelling into the phone."

Enter the Plano orderly, who apparently overheard Lafitte screaming obscenities at her superiors and remarked, "Oh no, not in my ER," which Lafitte's friend overheard. The friend tried to shush Lafitte, but she would not be shushed. A moment later, as she sat in a hospital room in just a hospital-issued gown and underwear, the orderly came in and, according to Laffite, yelled, "That's it, you're outta here."

"I put my hand up and said, 'Get the fuck out,'" Lafitte said. She says the orderly made a run at her, knocked the phone out of her hand and got her in a choke-hold. When she resisted, he shoved her hard into a bedside table. Panicked, she started throwing her clothes at him: first her jeans, then her boots. "That hit him in the face, broke his glasses, and scratched his face," she said. Lafitte made a run for the door and the orderly tackled her again.

Security was called. Plano police were called. The orderly at first wanted to press assault charges, then apparently changed his mind. DPD's Internal Affairs unit showed up and drove Lafitte home. Before they left, they took Lafitte's guns and told her she was on administrative leave. She told them she understood.

Then, Lafitte says, she noticed a never-used cabinet in her house was open, and being a cop, understood that someone from DPD must have searched her house. She texted a superior, "What were they flipping my house for?"

"Bodies," the officer texted back. Her phone calls had been so wild, they were concerned Lafitte's daughter might be hurt.

Over the following week, Lafitte says she told several of her superiors that something was "seriously wrong."

"Something's going on with me," she says she told one officer, who's named in her ethics complaint, in a phone call. "I need a doctor. This is an emergency." She says at one point, her neighbors found her pacing in the backyard, clutching her shirt to her chest and yelling, "Signal 15, Signal 15!" an officer code for distress, over and over.

"I was going out of my mind begging for help," she said. But the department didn't respond, and about a week after the hospital fight, manic, exhausted and "self-medicating with Jack Daniel's," she got on Facebook.

As the Morning News noted at the time, Lafitte wrote on her wall that during her fight with the orderly, ""I threw my boot at him, Jerry Springer style, and nailed him in the face. It broke his glasses and cut his face and bruised it up real good!"

The same article also said that she described herself on Facebook an "Official Bum Roller," which the paper called "a police lingo reference to dealing with homeless people," and that she'd posted a troubling photo of a black child surrounded by police officer, with the comment, "Quick ... sprinkle some crack on him!"

Lafitte says that image, which was posted months before the posts about the fight, was actually a picture of a black child on a tricycle, surrounded by white cops, with the words, "Damn 5-0," underneath it, and that the "crack" comment is a Dave Chappelle quote. She also says no one from the department called to tell her that the Facebook posts were out of line. But later they were used in the rationale for her firing.

"I'm the most unracist person you'll ever meet," she said. "DPD's M.O. is if they want to discredit you is to make you look racist."

It's a tangled web, to be sure. On Friday, the Ethics Advisory Commission will try to determine if any of this violates the city's ethics codes; a previous complaint Lafitte lodged with the City Manager's Office against DPD went unanswered, which explains Assistant City Manager A.C. Gonzalez's presence on the complaint.

In the meantime, Lafitte says she's working as a waitress at a "titty bar" and suffering from severe PTSD, anxiety disorder, and agoraphobia.

"I'm a nervous wreck," she said. "The city has mental disability [payment], and I really need it. It's a full-time job fighting this crap. I suffer every day."


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13 comments
CheeryBitch
CheeryBitch

Am I the only one that thinks she's full of shit? (Why would an orderly rush a patient? Don't buy it.) She suffers from "severe PTSD, anxiety disorder, and agoraphobia", yet she can work as waitress in a "titty bar"??? (Guys, I don't expect you to understand the anxiety that exists for a female when walking around with your T&A hanging out getting sneered and leered at by customers all day.). Sounds like she DID get help IF she was diagnosed with those disorders. Yes, mental health is largely ignored in this country, and there is very little to no help for many, unless they commit a crime. She thought she found an 'out' because she didn't get the transfer she wanted, IMO. Well, now she's out all right.

tim_lebsack
tim_lebsack

"adversely affect, lower or destroy public respect and confidence in the Dallas Police Department."Arresting the non-violent, a daily occurrence, will do this to you every time.

informed opinion
informed opinion

she painted the lady cop under the bridge in Deep Ellum. And she's cute. :)

Sanders Kaufman
Sanders Kaufman

It's obvious why she's behaving this way - she's seriously mentally ill.To call such a person a criminal is ludicrous.

VistaPrint Coupons
VistaPrint Coupons

 Your observations are exactly the reason that the Republicans lost the majority of elections this past November. With a 24 hour news media always searching and digging,

sandra crenshaw
sandra crenshaw

If this person was suffering from cancer or kidney failure, unrelated to the job, would you think that the employee's City's insurance should pay for her health care. But Justin and cat scatrash fever think that mental health is exempt.  I don't understand why the doctors did not detain her and ask for a judge to order her detained for observation as she was threat and risk to the public safety of everyone, whether she was a police officer or a civilian, whether she worked for DPD or whether she was homeless. I am interested in learning why the Police Department did not apprehend her and take her to Green Oaks for observation instead of driving her home.  As the public, we should not be concerned about any tax dollars spent on preventing someone from going "postal."  I would like further investigation into the the City of Dallas Crisis Intervention Team and how police officers respond to citizens in distress.

cat scratch fever
cat scratch fever

This person is a total nutjob. I can make that statement because this person is very familiar to me. As a taxpayer I am appalled that my taxes go to defend a nut who would be fired from any private corporate job. I'm just glad she was fired before she shot up a crowd. This story could have a very different ending.   

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

I've always wondered why we don't let women serve in combat yet it's ok for them to be police officers. The PTSD experienced by soldiers can just as well be experienced by cops, as evidenced here. It's tough being a cop, that's not a job that most of us could do. What this article doesn't explain is her AWOL from March 19th to March 25th. What is the reason for firing her for that if she was allegedly on administrative leave?

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Mental health is nothing to joke about...here's hoping the DPD gets off their ass and pays this claim....

Justin Julian
Justin Julian

I feel for her, but nowhere in this is any source of trauma related to her job evident.  Working a long shift while sick is the only reference.  Having mental health issues and making those issues the 'fault' of your job are two different things.  It's too bad she has mental health issues, but unless the city somehow directly caused them, it's not up to them to treat her for life.  To have PTSD, you have to have trauma in the first place.

cat scratch fever
cat scratch fever

 Total scam. She's looking to get paid and that is all. I see real mental illness every day and she's faking. Like I said before, I'm familiar with this person. I would not be surprised if "informed opinion was her.

sandra crenshaw
sandra crenshaw

Cherry Bitch and Cat scratch, faking an mental illness is a mental illness. She should not have been fired ( for the reason here.) She should have been put on leave and ordered for evaluation. If she continued the behavior and refusing medical help, the lawyers could have requested a judge to send her to a hospital.

informed opinion
informed opinion

Nope, I'm a male person living in Deep Ellum. I saw her painting the lady cop on the bridge support under the bridge next to my building. 

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