State troopers sued for alleged civil rights violations, assault and battery

By Catherine Melancon | Dec 7, 2012

BATON ROUGE – A Livingston Parish man is suing three state troopers, the state police superintendent and state police for allegedly violating his civil rights.

Michael Verrett, and wife Melissa, filed suit against State of Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, Lt. Buzzy Trahan, Lt. Chuck McNeal, Sgt. Randolph Revels and Col. Michael D. Edmonson in the 19th Judicial Court on Nov. 19.

The plaintiff claims that on Nov. 18, 2011, Trahan assaulted him near 7701 Independence Blvd.

Michael Verrett claims he and three co-workers were leaving their offices at the Office of Motor Vehicles on the compound of Louisiana State Police Headquarters located at 7667 Independence Blvd., when they encountered a dark, unmarked four-door vehicle operated by Trahan. Trahan was allegedly dressed in plain clothes at the stop sign directly stopped in front of the plaintiff's vehicle, preventing them from passing. The plaintiff asserts that the defendant's vehicle had several chances to proceed into traffic, but did not move.

Verrett, a retired Baton Rouge Police Officer and current employee of the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, exited the vehicle, in which he was the passenger and approached the rear passenger side of the unresponsive vehicle. The plaintiff claims he was approaching the vehicle to find out if the driver was lost or if there was a problem with the vehicle. Then, the defendant's vehicle allegedly took a sharp right hand turn onto Independence Boulevard and stopped. The vehicle the plaintiff was a passenger in, pulled in right behind it.

Trahan then allegedly got out of his vehicle and started walking toward the plaintiff, repeatedly asking Verrett, "What is your problem?"

The plaintiff responded that he was a retired police officer and the proper driving technique was to yield to traffic then merge onto the street. When it appeared that Trahan was not going to calm down, Verrett allegedly attempted to walk back to his vehicle.

At this point, Trahan stated, "you bumped me," grabbed Verrett's left shoulder, and a struggle ensued. Trahan stated he was a police officer and Verrett was under arrest.

Defendants McNeal and Revels, also employed by the Louisiana State Police, arrived on the scene and are accused of using excessive force along with Trahan, by kicking Verrett's legs and smashing his face into the ground.

Trahan, Revels and McNeal are accused of civil rights violations by falsely assaulting and battering the plaintiff, which is in violation of the eighth and 14th Amendments of the Constitution and committing unlawful and unconstitutional acts against the plaintiff.

The Louisiana State Police is accused of failing to develop and/or maintain a custom or policy to identify, discipline, rehabilitate and retrain its officers who allegedly violated the plaintiff, negligently hiring and retaining the troopers who allegedly violated the plaintiff and depriving the plaintiff of his rights.

Edmonson, in his capacity as Superintendent of the Louisiana State Police is accused of improper training, improper hiring, negligent retention, ineffective internal policies and ignoring patterns and practices of abuse.

An unspecified amount in damages is sought for assault, false arrest, false imprisonment, battery, public embarrassment, a change to his employment consisting of an unexplained transfer, lost wages, medical expenses and loss of earning capacity.

Verrett also allegedly suffered abrasions to his head, contusions to various parts of Verrett's body, broken eye glasses, broken cell phone case and a torn shirt.

Melissa Verrett is seeking compensation for loss of consortium, service and society.

Michael Verrett is advocating on his own behalf in court.

The case has been assigned to Division I Judge R. Michael Caldwell.

Case no. 617143.

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Louisiana Department of Public Safety State of Louisiana

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