LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The attorney for Louisville Metro Police Department Major Shannon Lauder shed more light on Lauder’s sexual harassment complaint against another LMPD officer that resulted in the suspension of Police Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel on June 12 by Mayor Craig Greenberg, D-Louisville.

What You Need To Know

  • Attorney Jared Smith represents Louisville Metro Police Major Shannon Lauder

  • In a meeting of senior LMPD officers, Major Shannon Lauder alleged that another LMPD officer sexually harassed and attacked her

  • During a news conference on June 13, Smith, described the meeting as "aggressive and threatening"

  • Smith said Lauder was motivated to seek accountability and "real, long-standing change" in the department, and said he was investigating events that span the last four years

Speaking in front of Metro Hall on Thursday, attorney Jared Smith, who is representing Lauder, recounted a May 22, 2024 command staff meeting called by Gwinn-Villaroel, which he described as “aggressive and threatening.” The meeting included everyone ranked major and above, according to Smith.

In a leaked recording of the meeting, Gwinn-Villaroel poses a question to the group, saying, “Is there anybody within this command staff you can’t work with?” The chief then calls each member of the command staff by name. 

Lauder, who Smith confirmed was attending the meeting remotely, can be heard unmuting herself when she is called on. Lauder says she cannot work with another officer, saying, “He has sexually harassed me and attacked me, and I cannot work with him.”

After several seconds of silence, Gwinn-Villaroel continues to call on officers individually without responding to Lauder’s allegations.

Louisville Metro Police Major Shannon Lauder is accusing another LMPD officer of sexual harassment. It was the handling of the case that led Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg to suspend police chief, suspension of Police Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel. (Jared Smith Law)

“Major Lauder, I’ve heard your concerns and I understand that you cannot and so we have to visit on the status moving forward,” Gwinn-Villaroel says later in the recording.

“My interpretation of the recording, which we’ve all heard at this time, is that the tone used by the then-chief, at the time, was both aggressive and threatening,” Smith said. “It was apparent to me that the environment within that meeting was not a welcome one and it did not feel like a safe one,” Smith added, calling it “problematic, from a leadership perspective,” and describing it as “autocratic,” and “leadership by threat.”

Smith said he couldn’t comment on the specifics of Lauder’s allegations but that he was charged with investigating the meeting and the events surrounding the meeting. According to Smith, Lauder “thought it was a run-of-the-mill” leadership meeting, and she did not know what to expect going into it.

The lawyer said his investigation would cover events that span the last four years.

“We are encouraged by the steps taken by Mayor Greenberg,” Smith concluded, adding that LMPD had been cooperative toward him and that Lauder has been in contact with acting Police Chief Paul Humphrey.

He went on to describe Lauder’s career with LMPD, noting her 16 years with the department, saying that she had a “great record.”

“She cares deeply about the LMPD and how they police,” he said. Smith said Lauder was seeking accountability and “real, long-standing change,” in the department. “The type of change that was noted by the Department of Justice in their scathing March 8, 2023 report,” Smith noted.

Smith shared that he did not know if the police chief was aware of the allegations before the meeting and did not know when the Louisville mayor became aware of them.

Greenberg announced on June 12 he had suspended Gwinn-Villaroel after concerns over how she handled the situation once she learned about the harassment allegations. He also said the city hired independent attorney and retired FBI agent David Beyer to lead an independent investigation into Lauder’s charges.

“I take these and any sexual harassment allegations very seriously and I also take the handling of these allegations very seriously. That is why I came to this decision,” Greenberg said. Gwinn-Villaroel will be on temporary paid leave of absence while the investigation into her actions is ongoing.

Spectrum News 1 is choosing not to release the name of the officer accused in this case while we continue to gather information on this story.


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