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Sheriff’s office staffer who talked to FBI sues over firing

NEW IBERIA, La. (AP) — A former south Louisiana sheriff’s office employee says the sheriff wrongly fired her for cooperating with the FBI in an investigation against him.

In a lawsuit filed earlier this month, Deborah Lourd said she was fired last year, shortly after a federal jury acquitted Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal on civil rights charges arising from the beatings of black inmates by deputies, The Advocate reported (http://bit.ly/2lKIPW3).

Prior to the trial, Lourd had given investigators several secret recordings of Ackal, including one in which authorities said Ackal used an ethnic slur to refer to someone believed to be federal prosecutor Mark Blumberg.

Lourd said in the lawsuit that she was demoted and stripped of her job duties when Ackal learned in July that she was cooperating with the FBI. She remained officially employed by the Sheriff’s Office until receiving formal notice of her termination after a jury in Shreveport acquitted Ackal on Nov. 4.

Louisiana’s whistleblower laws protect Lourd from any retaliation for cooperating with a criminal investigation, the lawsuit argues.

Ackal declined to comment on the lawsuit through Sheriff’s Office spokesman Captain Wendell Raborn.

Last year, prosecutors had said Ackal condoned and encouraged excessive force and had no regard for the black community in Iberia Parish.

Ten deputies pleaded guilty in the case, but Ackal’s defense lawyer argued that the abuses described were the work of members of a rogue narcotics unit who worked to conceal their actions from him.

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