After getting fired from the Baton Rouge Police Department earlier this week, the vice president of the BRPD union filed a request for injunction Friday, asking a judge to order that he remain employed and retain his health insurance amid ongoing cancer treatments.
The court filing was the latest development in a longstanding feud between union leaders and Chief Murphy Paul, which culminated in Paul’s recent decision to fire Siya Creel, the vice president, for giving an unauthorized media interview with a former Baton Rouge television reporter. The interview was about a billboard campaign the union launched during the summer to bemoan the Baton Rouge homicide rate, an indirect jab at the police chief and mayor.
Creel had already sued the department claiming his free speech rights were violated when BRPD leaders opened an internal investigation into the interview incident.
The request for injunction takes that lawsuit to another level, claiming Creel’s termination is a “literal death sentence” that interferes with his “ability to fight cancer and continue to survive.” The motion says Creel is “the primary caregiver and provider for his family” and now can’t afford to continue cancer treatments. It doesn’t mention possible alternative avenues he could pursue for getting health insurance coverage.
An online Gofundme page titled “Siya Creel Cancer Treatment Fund” has already raised almost $25,000 on his behalf.
The motion also claims the department refused to accommodate Creel’s disability, in this case cancer, violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws.
Paul announced Tuesday his decision to fire Creel for violating department policies. Creel said he plans to appeal that decision to the local civil service board, which reviews such cases. But in the meantime, he needs health care, his attorney said.
The internal investigation focused on several potential violations, including unauthorized public statements, according to a letter Paul sent to Creel last month notifying him of pending disciplinary action. The letter stated that Creel did not receive proper authorization before giving “an interview that would lead the general public to believe that you were representing BRPD.”
The interview focused on the first of several billboards, whose messages have grown more pointed over time. One told travelers to enter the city “at your own risk” because of the high homicide rate. Another called for more officers “not more deputy chiefs” — after Paul requested funding for a fourth deputy chief position — and yet another simply said “NO LEADERSHIP,” apparently targeting Paul.