A former Hattiesburg patrol officer is hoping to get his spot back after he was released for "conduct unbecoming of an officer."
Sergeant Clint Breland was released after the department alleged he had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl both on and off duty. Breland's attorney, David Frazier of Pascagoula, said there was not enough evidence presented to support the department's claim, which was based on statements from Breland and the girl, Christan Damiens, as well as polygraph tests. The two parties met in a hearing Monday afternoon before the civil service commission.
Frazier said certain federal guidelines were not followed when those polygraph tests were given, but Lieutenant Jon Traxler, who is the senior leadership for the internal affairs department with HPD, said he was not familiar with the federal Employee Polygraph Protection Act. Traxler claimed that was not included in the department's manual, therefore, he was not required to be knowledgeable of the federal law.
"When he feigned ignorance of the polygraph act, that was incredulous," Frazier said. "He knows what he was doing. He was jamming my client in such a manner to get him upset so that he knew when Sgt. Breland took the polygraph, he would be in a high state of agitation... knowing that would cause the results of the polygraph to be disparaged."
Lt. Traxler also did not release Damiens' video statement for Monday's hearing because it included information about other officers. Breland, however, argued that video statement could determine Damiens' credibility.
Former officer James Reed also testified Monday, saying he had a sexual relationship with Damiens. Reed said Damiens called him prior to giving Traxler her statement, and she said she was nervous about meeting him because she was under the influence of crystal meth. Reed said she told him Traxler threatened to arrest her on other charges if she did not give the statement, and Damiens told Reed a Lt. Brown yelled at her during the statement, telling her the information she provided was not correct.
"I've dealt with Lt. Traxler before in another case," Frazier said. "He's an interesting study. Let's just leave it at that."
Frazier said Lt. Traxler was not to get all the blame, however.
"Problems start at the top and work their way down," he said. "[Former] Chief [Frazier] Bolton was a huge problem for the City of Hattiesburg, and to the credit of the city council, they required Mayor [Johnny] DuPree to get rid of him."
In Reed's testimony Monday, he said he was told by the department that they did not want to terminate him, but they needed to get rid of someone else, who he could only assume was Breland.
City attorney Annie Amos, who represented the department Monday, declined to comment.
The civil service board said they would give a written statement to the parties advising them of next steps.