Molly English-Bowers Sep. 11, 2015, 12:30pm


A Port Neches officer is suing Jefferson County, alleging violation of his First Amendment right to free speech.

Steven Broussard, who worked 23 years in the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, most recently as a sergeant, filed a lawsuit Aug. 5 in the Beaumont Division of the Eastern District of Texas, against Jefferson County and G. Mitch Woods, individually and in Woods' official capacity as sheriff.

According to the complaint, Broussard was an exemplary employee throughout his tenure but was denied promotional opportunities, scrutinized, retaliated against and ultimately forced to retire or be fired. The suit says the plaintiff began noticing and reporting overtime violations, officers performing other paid duties while on the clock for Jefferson County, mishandling of evidence, abuse of the department's budget and under-trained officers, but says he was either ignored or told to keep quiet.

The lawsuit states when it became clear to the defendant that Broussard would not keep quiet, Woods gave the plaintiff the option to retire or be fired, thereby losing all health and pension benefits.

The plaintiff alleges his free speech rights were violated because his reports and complaints of misconduct and violations of policy were a factor in how he was treated.

Broussard seeks actual and compensatory damages, lost wages and benefits, attorney fees, court costs and a jury trial. He is represented by attorneys Terrence B. Robinson and Michelle Mishoe Miller of Kennard Blakenship Robinson in Houston, and Melody G. Chappell of Wells, Peyton, Greenberg and Hunt in Beaumont.

Beaumont Division of the Eastern District of Texas case number 1:15-cv-00309-MAC.

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