NEW ORLEANS — When a woman and her son filed a civil lawsuit in
the death of her boyfriend and father of her child, she set herself
up for a long legal road, according to one law professor.
According to Orleans Parish Civil District Court records, cited in
by The Advocate, Tyshara Blouin, 23, and her young son, Carter Eric
Harris, have filed a civil lawsuit against Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s
Office deputies and Sheriff Newell Normand. They are seeking
unspecified damages in the Feb. 8, 2016, shooting death of Eric
Harris, 22, in Central City. The child is Harris’ son with Blouin.
According to police records, Harris was fatally shot by Jefferson
Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies in 2016 in New Orleans.
William Quigley, a law professor and director of the Law Clinic
and the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center at Loyola University in New
Orleans, said the case may present its unique challenges, but nothing
that cannot be overcome.
“The family has to prove by a preponderance of evidence, or 51
percent, that law enforcement wrongly shot him,” he said.
According to Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office records, Harris
was pursued by deputies Kenneth Bonura and Henry DeJean after he
allegedly threatened an ex-girlfriend at a mall.
According to reports,
a brief chase ensured and Harris crashed his car. Normand said that
deputies shot and killed Harris when he started backing toward them,
The Advocate reported.
Quigley said this will be a key point in the case for both sides.
“The family's lawyer will be attempting to prove that there was
no need to shoot the man,” he said. “Law enforcement will try to
prove they were in fear of their lives and shot in self-defense.”
While the results of a joint FBI-New Orleans Police Department
investigation into the shooting of Harris have not been released,
Quigley said this information will be vital to attorneys on both
sides of the case.
“The results of the FBI investigation will be important but all
parties know that the standards in a criminal investigation are much
higher than in civil court,” he said. “So, while of great
interest to both parties, the results will not determine the outcome
of the civil case.”
Quigley added that these sort of cases usually take a long time to
nail down all the facts, take statements from everyone involved, have
experts examine the evidence and then get ready for trial.
“Most civil cases settle before trial,but this will be a hard
case on everyone involved,” he said.
And with cases like this usually ending in lawsuits, Quigley said
it shouldn’t have any bearing on the way law enforcement performs
“Law enforcement is well aware that injury or death in the
course of an arrest will likely bring lawsuits,” he said. “Changes
are often made when it becomes clear that a serious mistake was
Earlier this year, Jefferson Parish prosecutors brought a charge
of accessory to aggravated assault with a firearm against Blouin.
According to sheriff’s reports, she was with Harris during the
shopping-mall incident. Her problems could become an issue in the
“These will be problems, but they will not be insurmountable,”
As for the prospects for the case, Quigley said attorneys on both
sides may face “years of hard work” ahead of them.