Louisiana Record

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Court dismisses federal claims in lawsuit regarding tasing incident


By Takesha Thomas | Dec 27, 2018

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana recently granted a request to dismiss claims of federal rights violations in a suit filed against St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith stemming from an alleged tasing incident. 

In a Dec. 10 filing, U.S. District Judge Lance M. Africk granted a motion to dismiss filed by Smith's attorneys in the lawsuit filed by Jim C. Cambre, who claimed he suffered traumatic brain injury as a result of allegedly being beaten by officers, "particularly the baton strikes to his head," exacerbating his post-traumatic stress disorder.

In his ruling, Africk agreed that attorneys for Cambre failed to show enough evidence in his claim of violation of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure filed against Smith. 

Cambre filed suit in July stemming from January incident in which a Pearl River Police Department officer was called to Cambre's residence on a welfare check after a Facebook post caused his friends to be concerned, court filings said. Also on scene was a paramedic and assistant fire chief. After refusing to go to the hospital with paramedics, the fire chief then called the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office (STPSO), the filing says. Five officers approached Cambre and according to the filing, "without a warning or any verbal commands" tased him "for a cycle of more than five seconds and fired two probes at short range before all of the officers jumped on top of (Cambre)." Cambre contends that he was also continuously struck with a baton and became "unconscious for a period of time" before being handcuffed and loaded onto a stretcher. Cambre spent the night at a hospital before being discharged the following morning. 

According to the court filings, Cambre is an Army veteran who suffers from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In his suit, Cambre identifies Smith as "a policy-making official for STPSO and the individual in charge of rendering final decisions regarding STPSO’s policies and practices." 

Cambre claims that the investigation concluded that the STPSO deputies were acting in accordance with STPSO policy regarding the use of force. However, he claims, the internal affairs division "intentionally covered up its bad policing practices in lieu of addressing deficiencies within the organization."

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