HAMMOND — The Hammond Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board voted Tuesday to retain a team of attorneys to defend itself against a lawsuit by Police Chief Roddy Devall, who has been on paid administrative leave since May 15.

Devall’s suspension had its origins in the April 25 arrest of Hammond police officer Jennifer Payne, who is accused of “doctor shopping.” After the Police Department issued a news release about the arrest with Payne’s picture and her address, she complained to the civil service board that her privacy rights had been violated under civil service law.

Devall’s suspension followed Payne’s complaint.

Devall, through attorney Jill Craft of Baton Rouge, filed suit Friday in the U.S .District Court in New Orleans against Hammond Mayor Mayson Foster, David Danel, chairman of the civil service board, the board and the City of Hammond.

Devall claims in his lawsuit he was “unlawfully placed on administrative leave, removed from his office, denied the emoluments of his office and was issued with an illegal ‘gag’ order prohibiting him from speaking to anyone associated with the City of Hammond.

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