Longtime Hogansville police officer speaks on resignation

Published 10:30 pm Tuesday, June 28, 2022

HOGANSVILLE — Earlier this month, Lt. Ryan Loubet was asked to resign from the Hogansville Police Department after an internal investigation claimed that he leaked information about an active case to the public and that he failed to alert the proper channels of a citizen’s plan to sue the city. Loubet worked at the HPD for over eight years.

His resignation led to the formation of a Facebook group, led by several Hogansville citizens, asking that Loubet be brought back to the department, as well as speakers at Hogansville City Council meetings asking for his return.

The LaGrange Daily News filed several open record requests involving Loubet’s resignation.

According to the official investigation documents shared by the Hogansville Police Department, an investigation was first opened in May in response to an inflammatory Facebook conversation between Hogansville citizens Jason Miles, Ray Breed, and Scotty Smith Jr.  According to the report, the conversation included “veiled threats against officers” and discussed the “ambushing and shooting of officers in the Hogansville Police Department.”

In the Facebook post, which was posted on May 11, 2022, in a public group named “(Official) New Hogansville Talk page,” Miles was expressing irritation after officers of the HPD supposedly destroyed some fencing on his property and then refused to repair it or make an official report.

This led to a conversation in the comments in which Breed said that “They gonna whoop that [expletive] next,” referring to the HPD and Miles.

Miles responded by saying that “not a single cop could without his badge, I have got a Juice to handle my light work.”

Smith Jr. then commented by saying “tell him to call me, we’ll jump em,” followed by a laughing emoji.

Miles also commented at that time that he had spoken with Loubet but did not elaborate on their conversation in this particular post. On Monday, Miles told the LDN that he never made a threat against the HPD.

“There has never been any threat made toward the police department in any way shape or form…the Chief has tried to spin comments in the attempt to bring charges against me, and he hasn’t been held accountable,” Miles said.

Loubet and Miles told the LDN any investigation into Miles is closed and no charges had been filed against him.

On May 12, the day following the initial Facebook post, Miles posted again in the public group, saying “To the police officers who reached out and acknowledged that the City of Hogansville City Manager [Jonathan Lynn] and Chief [Jeff Sheppard] are wrong in the handling this situation, it’s greatly appreciated. I know y’all can’t speak out publicly because it would cost your jobs.”

Miles did not specify which officers he was referencing. Lynn has since resigned, though it’s unclear if this investigation played any role in that decision.

According to documents regarding the investigation, Sheppard opened an internal investigation to determine if there was an officer “undermining the department.” According to the report, Sheppard felt that the ‘sharing by the alleged officer “caused Mr. Miles to create an inflammatory post that led to veiled threats against the officers of the department.”

The investigation started with Sheppard asking each of the officers at HPD a set of nine yes or no questions, all of which revolved around contacting and sharing information with Miles. Sheppard noted in his report that “one officer had a very hard time answering the questions and attempted to manipulate the questions to suit his needs.” He continued by saying that, “as an experienced investigator with countless witness and suspect interviews done over the years, [he] immediately recognized deception with this officer.” He did not identify the officer.

To continue the investigation in an impartial manner, Sheppard asked the Troup County Sheriff’s Office to take over. At this point, Lieutenant Jeff Durand of TCSO conducted a voice stress analysis on each of the officers to help to determine which officers were being truthful. Durand could not reach Loubet at first, saying he would not answer his phone, according to Sheppard’s report on the investigation. The investigation was “paused,” and Sheppard and Loubet had at least one discussion about the investigation, per the report, where Loubet asked why HPD needed to waste time with an investigation. He also gave the names of several others who he alleged could be leaking information.

Eventually, Durand interviewed Loubet on June 6.  According to the account written by Sheppard, Durand said Loubet displayed “a great deal of deception” in his interview.

Furthermore, Durand noted that Loubet said he had spoken with Miles and that he had learned of a potential lawsuit that Miles was planning to file against the City of Hogansville. According to the report, Sheppard said that he believed, based on the revelations of both interviews, that Loubet was “using his position to gather information to assist in this alleged lawsuit.”

When asked about this claim, Loubet denied misusing his position to help in any manner. He also noted that there was no malicious intent behind not informing the city of Miles’ threat of a lawsuit.

“The reason I didn’t say anything about Jason suing the city is because I didn’t want to be involved, and I didn’t think it was any of my business,” Loubet said in an interview with The LaGrange Daily News. “I don’t know who told something to Jason, but it was not me.”

After the investigation, Sheppard gave Loubet the option of a voluntary resignation or being put on paid administrative leave pending further investigation.

“[Sheppard] told me that I could voluntarily resign and that the internal investigation would stop then,” Loubet told the LDN. “Or, [he said] I could sign a paid administrative leave, and they were going to call GBI in to investigate and potentially bring up charges against me for violating my oath of office.”

According to both the report and Loubet, he initially agreed to sign the administrative leave. However, after thinking about the situation, Loubet thought it would be best for his family to go ahead and resign.

“I don’t have the money to pay a defense attorney to fight the government,” Loubet said. “I had to look out for my kids and what I have financially, and I just couldn’t do that.”

After posting about his resignation on Facebook, Loubet recorded an alleged call from Sheppard in which he was told that his resignation was not public information and that they were changing his Peace Officer Standards and Training (P.O.S.T.) status from “voluntarily resigned” to “resigned under investigation.” Loubet said the change in status would have made it much more difficult for him to get another job in law enforcement. Loubet sent the call to the LDN, though there’s no identifying information showing that it’s Sheppard on the call. Sheppard did not respond to the LDN when asked if that was him on the call.

According to Loubet, while HPD did eventually agree to change back his resignation status, he claims they messed up numerous dates on the listing.

Currently, Loubet said he is no longer affiliated with the Hogansville Police Department and is not seeking reemployment with the Hogansville Police Department.

“I really love this community, and I have enjoyed serving, but currently I am looking elsewhere,” Loubet said.

Despite this, Loubet did note that he didn’t feel like the situation revolving around his resignation was not completely fair.

“I believe that everyone should be treated fairly, and I feel like I have been treated unfairly,” he said.

In regards to the lawsuit against the city, Miles stated that he was planning on moving forward with a lawsuit against the city of Hogansville and the HPD. He also stated that he did not believe that Loubet was at fault for his resignation.

“My family and I feel that we’ve been singled out and bullied by the city, code enforcement and the police department for speaking against their questionable actions,” Miles said.

“Ryan Loubet did nothing wrong and certainly didn’t do anything with malicious intent. Right is right, and wrong is wrong. The city and its representatives are in the wrong … this isn’t how I think Hogansville should be represented.”

As of Tuesday, Miles has not provided the LDN with a copy of any lawsuit against the city, nor has the LDN been able to verify that any lawsuit has been filed.