HARVEY – Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand is facing a
civil rights suit alleging that several of his officers used excessive force
earlier this year when they wrongly arrested a Marrero senior in connection with
a stolen car probe.
Robert Banks, 68, alleges he suffered
injuries to his head, neck, back and both of his shoulders when he was taken into
custody at his home in the early morning hours of Jan. 15, while officers were
combing the neighborhood of his Marshall Drive home in search of a vehicle in
In his suit, Banks charges that after he
answered a knock at his door from officers he was dragged down the stairs
wearing nothing but his underwear. Banks adds he was in bed with his wife when
the officers first arrived and only tried to walk away from them in order to
The arresting officers have been identified
in the lawsuit as Derek Adams and M. Layrisson. The suit also alleges that when
Banks repeatedly asked officers what he had done wrong and why he was being
arrested they only responded, "You know what you did."
At some point, Banks’ wife is alleged to
have pleaded with officers to be careful with her already sick and feeble husband,
but her pleas were largely ignored.
Banks has been described
as fragile and “old for his age” by his attorney Gary W. Bizal.
"We believe they
violated the rights of Mr. Banks by not asking any questions and just assuming
everything that they did,” Bizal told the Louisiana
Record. "You can’t just grab a guy out of his home and manhandle him.
If they had asked a few questions before, maybe he doesn’t have all the injuries
that he has to deal with now.”
The truck in Banks’
driveway that brought officers to his front door was later found to be owned by
him, though someone had replaced his license plate with a stolen one. Theft charges officers initially made against him have since been dropped.
While Normand wasn’t
actually on the scene of the Banks’ incident, he has been in the news of late stemming
from what some have characterized as the department’s faulty handling of the
Joe McKnight Jr. homicide investigation.
The former NFL star and
local high school legend was gunned down earlier this month in an apparent
road-rage shooting; Ronald Gasser was ultimately charged with manslaughter.
Critics have blasted
Normand for moving so slowly in formally charging Gasser, prompting the sheriff
to respond in a press conference that all of his detractors should be “ashamed”
and that nothing about the incident was about race.
Normand later insisted
that moving too quickly to arrest Gasser could have impacted the statements of
witnesses officers were still seeking to question.
Meanwhile, reports have
since emerged that Gasser was previously involved in a traffic related dispute
that also turned violent.
In that incident, Gasser
is accused of having followed another driver into a gas station and soon after
began striking him.
As for the histories of
the officers involved in the Banks’ case, Bizal said his team is awaiting more
discovery to learn more about them and their records.
“On this night, at least,
Mr. Banks swears that they were overly aggressive,” he said.