Monday, March 05, 2012

State Police pilot claims his supervisors ordered him to fly a helicopter after it was grounded by the FAA: Louisiana State Police supervisors sued

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -  A lawsuit filed Monday claims a pattern of retaliation and safety issues within the Louisiana State Police Department. A State Police pilot claims his supervisors ordered him to fly a helicopter after it was grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration, and that the Commander of all State Police took no disciplinary action.

The lawsuit claims two Louisiana State Police Pilot Supervisors committed malfeasance in office, wasted tax payer's money, and abused their power to get back at two pilots: Ryan Roberts and Lynn Calamia.

The pilots' attorney, Walter Smith III, has listed more than 25 examples of what he claims are clear cut cases of illegal actions by supervisors Brett McCloud and Eric Frazier.

One being an allegation that Frazier ordered Lynn Calamia to fly the State Police Helicopter after the FAA grounded the chopper for having cracked rotor blades. According to the suit, the supervisors knew it and let Calamia fly the aircraft, which put his life in danger, and on later flights with Governor Jindal, put the Governor and his wife in danger.

The lawsuit also states McCloud used the state helicopter to fly to Abbeville, LA to do what his attorney refers to as a "racially motivated" shakedown.

"McCloud was on duty and in uniform when he took a State Police helicopter without authorization, flew to Abbeville, La., misled Abbeville Police and lied to them to confront a young black man who was dating his daughter," said Smith.

"My client wasn't even at work," said McCloud's attorney, Jill Craft. "He was on administrative leave until the 7th or 8th. He was not there."

State Police Commander Colonel Mike Edmunson says records show a flight was scheduled on the date of the alleged shakedown. Edmunson says former Colonel Henry Whitehorn did take disciplinary action.

He tells 9 News an internal investigation is, and has been, underway. He says it involves reviewing all flight logs going back to 2005. He says so far he sees no evidence that the pilots flew an unsafe aircraft.

"At no time was anyone flown in an unsafe manner and at no time was any aircraft flown that we knew about had anything wrong with them that would've caused any harm or any unsafe flying conditions," Col. Edmunson said.

The Colonel says he has already made some changes, including removing McCloud and Frazier from their role of supervisor over the pilots.

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