Eunice Police Civil Rights Lawsuits

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Ardoin v. City of Eunice, NO. 6:09-CV-2180, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55020, 2011 WL 1979710 (W.D. La. 2011).  Excessive force lawsuit alleging excessive force by Officer Cram (also listed as Crum).  In the opinion, the court notes that Officer Cram had not been to a police academy.  Apparently in Louisiana, a police department can put a badge and a gun on a person, say to him: “go police”, and it is OK.  That is incredibly stupid and dangerous, and way below the professional standards of any reasonable agency.  According to the Eunice Today newspaper, the suit was dismissed under confidential terms.  In other words, considering the city lost its motion to avoid trial, they settled and paid off Ardoin.  It’s kind of hard to go to trial and claim that you didn’t use excessive force when you haven’t even been trained on what is the proper use of force.

Byers v. City of Eunice, 157 F. Appx. 680 (5th Cir. 2005).  False arrest lawsuit alleging that Detective Pappillion told a jail inmate what to say to implicate N’Yichi Byers of theft.  The inmate later recanted and Byers was acquitted of the charges.  Byers could not corroborate the inmate’s story and the court granted the officer’s motion for summary judgment (MSJ).  Personally, I think this was a mistake, the court is supposed to accept the facts most favorable to the nonmovant in a MSJ hearing, which means there would be a fact question for a jury.

Savoy v. St. Landry Parish Council, No. 08-CV-232, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111253, 2009 WL 4571851 (W.D. La. 2009).  Excessive force lawsuit.  The plaintiff suffered a broken nose, which was documented by a CT scan.  The jail refused or failed to send him back for an ENT doctor to treat his nose.  The case was dismissed because he filed 25 days after the statute of limitations had expired.  I’m not saying that Savoy doesn’t belong in jail, he was accused of kidnapping his estranged wife and his children, fleeing police at speeds of 100 mph, and jumping off a bridge into a basin to try and escape.

Law v. City of Eunice, 626 So. 2d 575 (La. Ct. App. 1993).  Detrimental reliance on promise of police lawsuit.  Thomas Law entered into a signed contract with officer Kent Moody that the police would drop a burglary charge against Law if Law paid $4,000, turn over incriminating evidence against himself, and assisted in arresting a drug dealer.  Law took out a loan on his house, paid $4,000 to Moody and helped the police arrest a major drug dealer.  Moody then went ahead and filed the burglary charge anyway, using the evidence that Law turned over.

Out of all of these cases, the most appalling case is the first one listed.  It is simply unthinkable that a city would hand an untrained individual a badge and a gun and tell him to go enforce the law.

 

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Lafayette and St. Landry Parishes, LA and Photographers (Updated II)

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A post on Photography is Not a Crime drew my attention the other day, so I decided to dig a little deeper and see what I could find.

In the post, Alexander John Lege was reported to have been arrested for filming a police stop in Lafayette, Louisiana from about 50 feet away.  The deputy sheriff, Randall Broussard, apparently didn’t like being filmed, and confronted Lege.  He eventually arrested Lege for interfering.

The same YouTube channel that has that incident also has several incidents from Eunice, Louisiana, in St. Landry Parish (with parts of the town in Acadia and Evangeline Parishes), and is somewhat north by northwest of Layfeyette Parish.

In this incident, Lege (or whoever is running the camera that I’m assuming is Lege) starts to video record an officer.  After just a few minutes, the officer confronts him and tells him to leave or he’ll be arrested.

In this video, he is video recording an accident investigation from a good distance away and is clearly not interfering.  A Eunice police sergeant approaches him and tells him to leave the “crime” scene.  Lege moves away, but the sergeant contacts him again, asks for identification, and tells Lege that there is a Supreme Court case that says Lege could be sued for video recording private citizens.  Unfortunately, the sergeant only had the information half right.  SCOTUS, in Wilson v. Layne, 526 U.S. 603, 614 (1999), ruled that police officers could not take the media with them when they served a search warrant.  The lawsuit wasn’t against the media, it was against the police, and the police lost.  See also Hanlon v. Berger, 526 U.S. 808, 809-10 (1999) (per curiam) (federal agents violated citizen’s rights by allowing CNN to accompany them on a search warrant).  The sergeant then threatened him with arrest a final time.

Also in Eunice, on December 24, 2012, he was video recording an encounter with the local college’s housing staff and the police that involved him.  The first thing that happens is the officer tells him to put the phone down and to stop recording.  At approximately 12:55 in the video, Lege asks what the probable cause was to pull him over, and the officer says that he doesn’t need probable cause if the management asks him to pull him over.  Well, that’s a new one on me.  I was always under the impression that an officer had to have at least reasonable suspicion to pull someone over.  I guess in Louisiana all that is required that Boudreaux asks an officer to stop someone and it’s OK.  Finally, Lege is trespassed from his apartment (and evicted, according to the college official).  While walking away, Lege flips the bird at the officer and is immediately arrested for disorderly conduct.  I guess the officers there don’t understand the Free Speech clause either.  Maybe someone should advise them of Swartz v. Insogna, 704 F.3d 105 (2d Cir. 2013) and the multitude of other cases that make it clear that citizens can flip off police officers.

In any event, police in the heart of Cajun country apparently have no regards for the First Amendment.

UPDATE

Apparently the Eunice Police have arrested him again, for video recording police.  I’ll post more as I get the information.

UPDATE II

Apparently the local news has picked up on the story.  The original story is here, with a follow up story here.  The second story by KATC story basically just quotes the police chief.

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