Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Written by Leslie Turk
Ugly allegations that Lafayette Police Maj. Glen Dartez, a trained medic, refused to render emergency aid at a domestic dispute that left a woman dead and her boyfriend facing a murder charge should not come to a tidy conclusion with the 34-year veteran’s impending retirement.
[UPDATE: After this story went to press, the Lafayette Police Department announced that Maj. Glen Dartez had been placed on administrative leave, the action coming 2.5 months after local police learned he had been at the alleged murder scene. Monday afternoon Police Chief Jim Craft told the paper that Louisiana State Police were not involved in the investigation of Dartez but Tuesday night confirmed State Police had been called in and that sufficient evidence exists to turn the matter over to DA Mike Harson for potential criminal prosecution. Numerous questions remain about the department's handling of the investigation into one of its own, and Dartez is still expected to announce his retirement shortly, according to our sources.]
Sources close to the internal affairs investigation alleging wrongdoing by Maj. Glen Dartez, one of the highest ranking officials in the Lafayette Police Department, tell The Independent Weekly that Dartez is planning to retire in an effort to avoid criminal prosecution of alleged wrongdoing in an ongoing murder case. Dartez, according to those sources, is the subject of an internal affairs investigation prompted by a claim that on the evening of June 11 the 34-year veteran of the department, who also is a trained medic, refused a desperate man’s plea to help his unresponsive girlfriend.
That desperate man is 31-year-old William Phillips Jr., who is sitting in a jail cell for allegedly killing his girlfriend, Montie “Quinn” Martie, who died June 12 at Lafayette General Medical Center.
William Phillips Jr. and Montie Martie had one thing in common when they met last year: He was coming out of drug rehab, according to Phillips, and she was entering a similar program. Despite their age difference — she was 13 years older — the two hit it off and he ended up relocating from Shreveport to Lafayette. They moved in together, renting a small space behind her mother’s house at 202 Wilcox St. off Pinhook Road.
Rehab didn’t take for either one, says Phillips, and within months the two were back smoking crack, he in January and Montie in December. Phillips insists that Montie had convinced her family she was off cocaine, but says she was stealing from her mother to support her habit, though he claims he was often blamed for the missing money. “[The family] was like, blame it on the black guy,” he says. (Phillips is black and Montie was white.) Phillips also says he was complicit in hiding her drug addiction from her family.
On the afternoon of Friday, June 11, Phillips rode his bicycle back from his job at a local tire shop, arriving home to his girlfriend, who was visiting with one of her friends he knew only as “Debbie,” and Montie’s mother, Gertie Martie. He says he did not know Debbie, but that Montie had told him the day before that a friend would be coming over Friday and would spend the night. A source close to the investigation tells The Independent Weekly that no one named Debbie is listed as a witness in the police department’s initial investigative report on Montie’s death.
|Maj. Glen Dartez, a 34-year veteran of the Lafayette
Police Department, is the subject of an internal affairs
investigation. Dartez is expected to retire but had not
done so when The Independent Weekly went to press
Interviewed more than two months after his arrest, on Friday via video from the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center, Phillips is not so much wondering why he’s locked up — he and Montie had a number of physical altercations the afternoon and evening before her death, though he maintains he did not intend to hurt her — but why the Lafayette police officer who was at the scene refused his request to help her.
Phillips acknowledges that he and Montie fought over an extended period on June 11 after an afternoon of heavy drinking, and smoking pot and crack cocaine. He claims she accused him of having a romantic interest in Debbie, got upset when he refused to buy more crack cocaine and was combative over his threats to leave her. In the course of the violence, Montie sustained a broken nose — which Phillips says occurred when she grabbed his shirt and his elbow hit her in the face when he swung around — and swelling in her left eye.
As the night wore on, however, Phillips maintains the violence ended and the two reconciled. “We had made up. We talked. We made love. We took a shower,” he says.
Phillips says sometime between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. Montie said she was tired and wanted to go to bed; he says he visited briefly with her in bed and within 15 or 20 minutes she was making a noise that he thought was snoring. He says he left the home on his bike to try to retrieve money from a local bank’s ATM and when he returned home watched TV.
Phillips says when he went to bed later that night, about 11 p.m., the bed was soaked with what he initially thought was water but soon realized was urine. He says he tried repeatedly to wake Montie up, splashing cold water on her face, but she was unresponsive. Knowing Montie was diabetic, he thought she had slipped into a diabetic coma.
Debbie, he says, had been in Montie’s mother’s house for most of the afternoon and into the night. But when Phillips ran outside to get help, he saw Debbie standing behind Gertie Martie’s Cadillac talking to a man who was in an “undercover” vehicle, as he describes it.
|William Phillips Jr. is facing a second degree murder charge
in the death of his girlfriend, 44-year-old Montie Martie;
Phillips says Lafayette Police Department Maj. Glen Dartez
refused his plea for help when Montie was unresponsive in
the small building the couple rented from her mother
at 202 Wilcox St. in Lafayette.
“I’m a drug addict,” Phillips says, “and drug addicts know what a police vehicle looks like.”
The man was standing outside of his vehicle, Phillips adds, and the unmarked unit had been turned around and was facing Pinhook. Because of that, Phillips assumed the man had not just coincidentally driven by.
Phillips, who describes himself as “hysterical” at the time, approached the man and asked him if he was a police officer. He claims the man responded, “I’m a police officer, but I’m not on duty.”
“I said, ‘Man, I need your help. Something is wrong with my girl,’” Phillips recalls. He says the officer refused to help.
It wasn’t just any police officer William Phillips Jr. saw outside Gertie Martie’s house that night, Phillips has since learned. He identified a photograph this reporter showed him of Dartez, confirming he was the man he saw that night — the man Debbie presumably called, though it remains a mystery why Dartez got involved and what his relationship is to the woman Phillips knew only as Debbie.
Glen Dartez, who lives in Vermilion Parish, is head of the department's criminal investigations division and one of three majors in the Lafayette PD, the highest ranking official below chief. He is also — it turns out — an experienced medic. Before joining the Lafayette Police Department in 1976, Dartez, now 57, worked several years as an emergency medical technician for Acadian Ambulance, according to his employment application.
Phillips says when he could not get help from Dartez he notified Gertie Martie that Montie was unconscious and says he then called 911, reporting a diabetic emergency. He and Gertie returned to his home, he says, claiming he tried to dress Montie and administer insulin before medics arrived.
As far as Phillips knows, Debbie left the scene with Dartez.
When Montie got to Lafayette General, the attending physician noted facial injuries consistent with domestic abuse (Phillips says the doctor asked him and Gertie if Montie had been in a car wreck).
According to Phillips’ initial arrest affidavit, a CT scan revealed bleeding from the brain stem and noted that “witnesses present in neighboring house” reported hearing Phillips “yelling at the victim and slapping” her.
“It didn’t dawn on me that she had head trauma,” Phillips says. “She never hit her head or anything.”
Still at the hospital awaiting word on Montie’s condition, Phillips was arrested in the early morning hours of June 12, initially charged with attempted second degree murder, the police report noting that his statement of how she sustained the injuries was inconsistent with the injuries themselves. At the time, Montie was on life support and not expected to make it.
At about 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 12, 44-year-old Montie Martie died. The official cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head, according the Lafayette Parish Coroner’s Office. There is no mention of drugs as a contributing factor in her death.
Phillips’ charge was upgraded to second degree murder.
Phillips has since been in the LPCC on a $250,000 bond. He has not yet been arraigned and does not have an attorney.
Gertie Martie last week refused to comment on her daughter’s death and the circumstances surrounding it. “I don’t want to talk about it right now,” she said, sounding tired. She had been napping and was not feeling well.
But if Phillips — who gave at least two statements to police — told investigators about the presence of an off-duty officer, could it have possibly taken them two months to learn the identity of the officer? And wouldn’t investigators have gotten the same information from the woman Phillips called “Debbie,” who was able to identify the officer?
And, more important, who is this woman Phillips knew only as Debbie?
It’s perplexing why it took until Aug. 11 — when a complaint alleging wrongdoing on the part of a police officer who was at the scene was filed with the police department — for Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft to order an internal affairs investigation.
The IA investigation was first reported Aug. 26 by KLFY TV10, which did not identify the police officer involved. It is standard policy for the police department to confirm that an IA investigation is under way, but it typically does not confirm the name of officers involved in the inquiry or any other information until the investigation is completed.
The policy is in place “just to kind of protect the integrity of the whole process,” Craft tells The Independent Weekly.
It is unclear who filed the complaint, as The Independent’s public records request for a copy of it was denied Friday by Lafayette City-Parish Attorney Pat Ottinger, who cited that the records could be “reasonably anticipated to result in criminal litigation,” and that releasing the complaint could jeopardize the investigation.
Craft, who expects to get the results of the IA investigation this week, says if any departmen tal policy was violated, he will take the necessary disciplinary action against the officer in question. And if the investigation points to potential criminal conduct, he vows to refer the case to District Attorney Mike Harson for further investigation.
Still, it’s hard to fathom why Dartez was not immediately placed on administrative leave, as would be customary in an investigation involving possible criminal charges against an officer — or to buy Craft’s explanation for why the IA investigation was not ordered sooner. “If the investigation was initiated on Aug. 11, that’s when I became aware that our officer was on the scene,” the chief says. “We were not aware of that prior to Aug. 11. As soon as we became aware, we followed our protocol ... we initiated an investigation.”
If that is true, it raises serious questions about the Lafayette Police Department and how it conducts investigations.
Could Lafayette police investigators, led by experienced detective David LeBlanc, have possibly overlooked this key piece of information? Or if they were privy to Dartez’s presence at the scene, would they have kept this controversy from their supervisors and Craft, as Dartez’s being there also makes him a material witness?
That, according to sources in the department, is highly unlikely.
|Montie Martie died of blunt force trauma to
the head, according the Lafayette Parish
Coroner’s Office. The coroner does
not mention drugs as a contributing factor in
But if for some inexplicable reason the information did not make its way to the top brass, then we are left believing that a veteran policeman, who is obligated to render help whether on or off duty, did not inform his immediate supervisor, Craft, that he was at the scene once he realized the woman died and the man who asked for his help was charged with murder.
Withholding that information, in itself, should have been grounds for Dartez’s termination.
And his chief worry would now be defending himself against allegations of criminal conduct.
With six of the LPSB’s nine members poised for Pat Cooper’s termination, a request was filed Tuesday for a fast-tracked hearing on the federal lawsuit calling for the disqualification of two board members from voting on the matter due to bias.
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