St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office sued by man for alleged police brutality and false arrest for recording peaceful protest

By Kyle Barnett | Aug 7, 2013

NEW ORLEANS – A Lafourche Parish man is suing the St.Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office and numerous deputies for alleged police brutality after he allegedly attempted to record a a peaceful protest against the living conditions of the parish prison.

Carl Brown filed suit against St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Jack Strain Jr., personally and in his official capacity as the Sheriff of St. Tammany Parish, Lieutenant David Guchereau, Deputy Geroge R. Cummings, Deputy Daniel Sabillion and Deputy William D. Mcintrye in the 24th Judicial District Court on Aug. 6.

Brown claims he was part of a peaceful protest that at the St. Tammany Parish Justice Center on Aug. 4 in response to findings by the Department of Justice that the St. Tammany Parish Prison was violating constitutional rights of inmates by failing to provide human confinement conditions and adequate mental health care. The protest was in particular focused on bringing attention to prisoners allegedly locked in a three by three foot holding cell called the “squirrel cage.”

The plaintiff alleges that 75-100 protestors who were involved in the action on outside of the courthouse were told by deputies that they had to leave parish property and they went across the street instead.

Brown, who is a business major with a minor in communications at Nicholls State University, asserts he was filming the protest as part of an academic project. The plaintiff alleges that as he was gathering his belongings after being requested to leave, Lt. Guchereau attempted to confiscate his video camera before ordering Cummings to put him under arrest. Brown claims that during his arrest deputies Cummings, Sabillon and Mcintyre used unreasonable and excessive force by slamming him to the ground while attempting to confiscate his camera.

The plaintiff alleges that he was detained for two hours inside the courthouse without being informed of the reason for his arrest. Brown claims he consented to a drug test after being told there was a possibility that he would be released sooner if he did one.

While at the jail the plaintiff was later forced into one of the “squirrel cages” that had been the focus of the protest.

The defendant is accused of failing to properly train and supervise officers involved in the arrest and detention, intentional breach of constitutionally guaranteed rights, excessive force and false imprisonment.

An unspecified amount in damages is sought for lost wages, medical expenses and punitive damages.

Brown is represented by Joshua Michael Palmintier of Baton Rouge-based deGravelles, Palmintier, Holthaus & Fruge.

The case has been assigned to Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon.

Case no. 2:13-cv-5238.

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