The third day of the Bayou La Batre Mayor Stanley Wright's trial held the most emotional testimony so far when former Police Capt. Darryl Wilson took the stand to be questioned about the alleged retaliation he faced for working with federal investigators.
Wilson was called to testify just after lunch and stayed on the stand for nearly four hours answering questions that ranged from conversations he had with Wright to his involvement in Drug Enforcement Agency cases.
Assistant U.S. Attorney George F. May asked Wilson to start by describing when the alleged issues with Wright began.
In January 2011, Wilson said, he cooperated with two FBI special agents who questioned him about misuse of BP and Katrina Funds, which were federal dollars.
Wilson said he had two meetings with the agents. Shortly after the second meeting, he received a letter at his house from Wright that took him off of working with The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF). Wright wrote in the letter that Wilson was to be on general patrol duty and not to work with any federal agency.
Through the Department of Justice, the city was reimbursed for overtime Wilson worked while on cases with the OCDETF. This resulted in a boost in pay on an average of $10,000 annually.
"I got used to the overtime and needed it because it helped feed my family,â€ť Wilson said.
When the former Bayou La Batre police captain received the letter just days after meeting with the FBI agents, he called then-Police Chief John Joyner.
"He was shocked. He had no idea about it,â€ť Wilson said.
That, Wilson said, was the beginning of a series of events that caused him to develop severe panic attacks and question daily the security of his job.
Feb. 28, 2011, seemed to be a tipping point for the situation between Wilson and Wright.
Wilson had been assigned a 2005 Infiniti SUV as his police vehicle in January 2011. The vehicle was a seizure during a drug case and then became part of the police departmentâ€™s fleet.
Shortly after being assigned the SUV, Wilson went on medical leave for surgery on Jan. 31, 2011.
He said he was healing at home with three-inch incisions on both feet on Feb. 28, 2011, when he was told officers were coming to pick up the car.
Wilson said it was impossible because he has an electronic gate with a security code. The gate has a remote device to open it, but it was in the SUV. Since Wilson was on crutches, but could not actually walk, it was not possible for him to open the gate for the officers, he said.
Things went from bad to worse. After Wilson was told the officers would tear down the gate, he said he would have the proper authorities arrest the officers for trespass. Wilson received a voicemail from Wright that said if the car wasnâ€™t turned in, then Wilson would be arrested.
May asked Wilson what he did then.
"I did two things that day. First, I got a criminal lawyer,â€ť he said. Before continuing, Wilson began to cry openly. Then he said, "The second thing I did was arrange for someone to make my bail.â€ť
It never got to that point, though, and the vehicle was returned by 6 that night.
Wilson said he began to think Wright was retaliating against him because other officers were on medical leave at that time too. They had patrol cars and no other car was confiscated from their homes.
"Chief (Joyner) was out on medical leave then too. He had a patrol car too,â€ť Wilson said. "The chief or any other officer has never had their car taken from them on medical leave.â€ť
Then on March 1, 2011, Wilson received a certified letter from Wright. The overall point of the letter was moot because it was declaring a time and date for the car to be returned, which it had already been returned. However, in the letter, Wright stated he sent other certified letters and received no response.
When that portion of the letter was read, Wilson turned to look directly at Wright and said, "Thatâ€™s a bald-faced lie.â€ť
Wilson and City Clerk Assistant Chadric Seaman testified there was no record of Wright sending Wilson any other certified letter.
When Wilson returned to work on March 14, 2011, he was assigned to general patrol, which is an entry-level position. He was also given a 2000 or 2001 Crown Victoria, which he said was one of their "junk cars.â€ť
Upon cross examination, defense attorney Arthur Madden argued Wilson never received a cut to his base salary, which didnâ€™t include the overtime he was accustomed to, nor was the witness demoted.
Madden asked if Wilson had filed an $800,000 lawsuit against Wright, the city and some City Councilors. He said he had.
Madden ended his questioning there, but May took up the line of questioning asking why Wilson filed the suit.
"I felt I had to,â€ť he said. "I lived day to day not knowing if I would have a job, not knowing if I would have retirement. I had to protect myself so thatâ€™s why I filed the lawsuit.â€ť
After the day of testimony, the prosecution said the rest of their witnesses would take up Thursday, Feb. 28. Madden said the defenseâ€™s witness will not take a full day. That means the jury may have the case before the end of Friday.