SLIDELL — A prisoner in a Louisiana jail has reached an
out-of-court settlement with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office after
charging a since fired deputy officer with viciously attacking him in
an unprovoked incident while he was handcuffed.
According to a report
by the Times-Picayune, U.S. District Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon
recently dismissed the suit brought by Bryce Hemstad in October 2016,
instead announcing that he had “firmly agreed upon a compromise.”
The suit originally named former Deputy Timothy Hooker, Deputy
Joseph Hart, former Deputy John Favaloro, Sheriff Randy Smith, former
Sheriff Jack Strain and the Sheriff's Office insurer as defendants.
In an unrelated incident, according to the Times-Picayune report,
the Sheriff's Office terminated and arrested Hooker on battery
charges in December 2015 for allegedly striking another inmate.
In the Hemstad case, Hooker was accused of pepper-spraying the
victim and hitting him in the face several times while he was
handcuffed to a bench and blinded by the vapors of the spray.
In his petition, Hemstad, now an inmate in St. Charles Parish,
that the attack came after Hart angrily walked him out of his cell
and down a hall while complaining that he was "tired of dealing
“The most important thing in lawsuits like these is that the
court system be receptive to listening and diligently protecting the
rights of incarcerated individuals,” David J. Utter, an attorney
with the Claiborne Firm who has more than 20 years of experience
working on civil-rights cases, told the Louisiana Record.
He later added that “so often, people locked up are forgotten
about and it’s that 'out of sight, out of mind' conundrum that
allows these kinds of abuses to happen. It’s important that lawyers
continue to handle these kinds of cases.”
alleged that Hart and Favaloro did not do anything to stop or slow
the attack while witnessing the incident. Afterward, Hemstad
allegedly remained cuffed to a bench a minimum of 45 minutes, all the
while suffering from injuries to his face, teeth and jaw.
At the time of his termination and arrest, the agency announced
that Hooker had struck another inmate in the face after the man was
"noncompliant with meal-service procedures," forcing him to
be removed from the jail dining area last November.
As the man was being escorted to another area of the prison,
Hooker allegedly attacked him.
“The rights of the incarcerated have to be protected just as
they are for everyone else in our society,” Utter said. “For
justice to truly work, it’s really that simple. It’s the only
Over the course of at least 12 years, Hemstad has pleaded guilty
to many charges in St. Tammany area, “including being a convicted
felon in possession of a gun, making harassing phone calls,
aggravated battery, simple burglary, possession of the pain
medication oxycodone, and operation of a methamphetamine laboratory,”
the Times-Picayune reported.