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Ky. Supreme Court hears opening arguments from former LMPD officer and Police Merit Board

Kentucky Supreme Court judges hearing case on Dezmon Moore
Giselle Rhoden
The Kentucky Supreme Court judges heard the opening arguments following a lawsuit by former LMPD Dezmon Moore against the Louisville Metro Police Merit Board.

The Kentucky Supreme Court heard opening arguments Wednesday in a case involving a former Louisville Metro police officer that was fired following allegations he assaulted his wife and ignored a court order.

In front of the state's Supreme Court justices, Attorney David Leightty argued former officer Dezmon Moore was unjustly fired from Louisville Metro Police Department in May 2017.

He alleged former police chief Steve Conrad used Moore’s expunged criminal charge during a hearing with the Louisville Metro Police Merit Board as supporting evidence for Moore’s termination.

As a result, the board upheld two of three violations of LMPD’s standard operating procedures following a four-day trial-like hearing, court records show. Both the Jefferson Circuit Court and the Court of Appeals upheld the board’s decision.

“The chief is not entitled to look at what's been expunged,” Leightty said.

Court records allege Moore assaulted his then-wife Bethel Moore in September 2016 then repeatedly ignored court orders mandating he stay away from her. He eventually pled guilty to violating the conditions of his release following an arrest. However, Moore's charges for fourth degrees assault were dismissed as part of a plea agreement, and later expunged, records show.

Merit Board Attorney Mitchel Denham said the board did not use the September incident as evidence to support Moore’s termination at the hearing. Instead, they said they used Moore’s two charges for violating the no-contact orders with his ex-wife as ground for his termination.

“The Merit Board found there was substantial evidence to support the findings of the second two [incidents], and that's what it based its decision on [to fire Moore],” he said.

In court on Wednesday, Leightty also alleged the merit board denied Moore’s right to due process, which would allow his attorney to confront or question witnesses at the termination hearing.

That’s in part because the Court of Appeals found that the merit board erred in admitting sworn witness statements, including written statements. Attorneys for the merit board say the error was “harmless,” records show.

The court is scheduled to hear more of the case tomorrow at 10 a.m.

Giselle is LPM's breaking news reporter. Email Giselle at grhoden@lpm.org.

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