Tag Archives: louisiana

Lawyer: Father Had Hands Up When Police Opened Fire, Killing 6-Year-Old

Chris Few posed no direct threat to police and had his hands up when two deputy city marshals opened fire on his vehicle, severely wounding him and killing his son, according to Few’s lawyer.

Few’s son, 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis, was pronounced dead at the scene after he was struck by five bullets. Few remains hospitalized and in serious condition after the encounter on Nov. 3 in Marksville, Louisiana, and he has not yet been notified of the death of his son.

While reports claim that there were four officers on the scene, two were arrested on Friday and held on $1 million bonds.

Derrick Stafford, 32, a Marksville police lieutenant, and Norris Greenhouse Jr., 23, a full-time marshal in Alexandria, Louisiana, were arrested on second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder charges.

Lt. Jason Brouillette and Sgt. Kenneth Parnell, the other officers involved in the shooting, are currently on administrative leave.

[RELATED: Two Officers Arrests in ‘Disturbing’ Shooting that Killed 6-Year-Old Boy]

Mark Jeansonne, an attorney for Chris Few, told the Associated Press that while he has not seen the footage from the officers’ body cameras, it was described at the bond hearing on Monday.

“This was not a threatening situation for the police,” said Jeansonne, who said that Few had his hands up when the officers opened fire.

When describing the body camera footage from the shooting, State police superintendent Col. Michael Edmonson said, “It was the most disturbing thing I’ve seen, and I will leave it at that.”

District Attorney Charles Riddle recused himself from the case on Monday, citing the fact that one of his top assistant prosecutors is the father of Greenhouse.

Questions remain as to why Few was pursued by police, as Edmonson noted that there is currently no evidence of any warrants out for his arrest. It is unclear why police opened fire on Few’s vehicle when it did not contain any weapons and reportedly did not appear to pose a direct threat at the time.

In addition to refusing media requests, Judge William Bennett did not allow any transcripts from the bond hearing to be released, and he issued a gag order to prohibit anyone involved in the case from giving information to the media.

Two Officers Arrested in ‘Disturbing’ Shooting that Killed 6-Year-Old Boy

Two deputy city marshals in Louisiana were arrested on the counts of second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder last Friday, after video footage from their body cameras showed a shooting that killed a young boy and wounded his father.

Jeremy Mardis, a 6-year-old autistic boy, was killed on Nov. 3 after he was struck by five bullets while riding in the front passenger seat of his father’s SUV. His father, Chris Few, is hospitalized and is in serious condition after the two were the subject of a police chase in Marksville, Louisiana.

However, it remains unclear as to why Few was initially pursued by the officers, due to the fact that State police have said there were no warrants out for his arrest. The officers’ initial report of Few’s vehicle backing into theirs conflicts with newer information, and no weapons were found in Few’s vehicle.

The officers in question are Derrick Stafford, 32, a lieutenant with the Marksville police, and Norris Greenhouse Jr., 23, a full-time marshal in Alexandria, Louisiana.

At a news conference on Friday, State police superintendent, Col. Michael Edmonson called the video footage of the shooting, captured on the body cameras worn by the officers, the most disturbing thing he has seen during his career.

“Jeremy Mardis, six years old, he didn’t deserve to die like that, and that’s what’s important,” Edmonson said. “I’m not going to talk about it, but I’m going to tell you this – it was the most disturbing thing I’ve seen, and I will leave it at that.”

Edmonson also said he believes nothing is more important than the badge police officers wear on their uniforms, and the integrity of why they wear it. “It’s not a right, it’s a privilege,” he said. “Tonight that badge has been tarnished by the following two individuals.” 

On Sunday, Edmonson credited the video footage with helping the department come to its decision on the officers.

“I’ve been a police officer for 35 years, but as a father—much less as a state police—it was a disturbing, disturbing video that I watched,” Edmonson said, “and that really helped move us forward.”

NBC News reported that earlier this year, both Stafford and Greenhouse, along with several other Marksville officers, “were accused in a civil lawsuit filed in federal district court of using excessive force during a Libertarian event July 4, 2014, in downtown Marksville.”

The lawsuit was filed by Ian Fridge, who alleged that after openly carrying a firearm at the event that he thought he was allowed to have, he was tasered by the officers and charged with “resisting arrest, battery on an officer and other crimes,” despite claiming to be “completely compliant.”

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal Vetoes License Plate Reader Surveillance Bill

On Friday, Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal vetoed SB250, a bill aimed at “using automatic license plate recognition systems to identify stolen vehicles
and uninsured motorists.” The bill, which previously passed overwhelmingly in both houses of the Louisiana State Legislature, was originally introduced by State Senator Ronnie Johns (R-Lake Charles).

According to The Times-Picayune, if the bill had become law, automatic license plate scanners would have been placed on mobile trailers, bridges, and law enforcement vehicles in 9 Louisiana parishes at a cost of $5 million. The legislation would have allowed law enforcement agencies and their contractors to store the data collected by the scanners for up to 60 days. A private contractor providing the equipment would have been allowed to collect 30% of the revenues raised by license plate readers.

A statement by Governor Jindal read, “Senate Bill No. 250 would authorize the use of automatic license plate reader camera surveillance programs in various parishes throughout the state. The personal information captured by these cameras, which includes a person’s vehicle location, would be retained in a central database and accessible to not only participating law enforcement agencies but other specified private entities for a period of time regardless of whether or not the system detects that a person is in violation of vehicle insurance requirements. Camera programs such as these that make private information readily available beyond the scope of law enforcement, pose a fundamental risk to personal privacy and create large pools of information belonging to law abiding citizens that unfortunately can be extremely vulnerable to theft or misuse… For these reasons, I have vetoed Senate Bill No. 250 and hereby return it to the Senate.

[RELATED: FBI Invested in License-Plate Reader Tech Despite Privacy Concerns]

The Times-Picayune estimates that 25% of Louisiana’s motorists are uninsured.

Privacy advocates worry that the cameras, which scan the license plates of all vehicles passing through a particular location, provide too much information about the whereabouts and movements of law-abiding citizens.

Analysis of a similar program in Oakland, CA by Ars Technica found that it was ineffective at its intended purpose and significantly affected the privacy of innocents. “Earlier this year, Ars obtained 4.6 million LPR records collected by the police in Oakland, Calif. over four years and learned that just 0.16 percent of those reads were ‘hits.’ We discovered that such data is incredibly revelatory. We were able to find the city block where a member of the city council lives using nothing but the database, a related data visualization tool, and his license plate number,” wrote Ars Technica’s Cyrus Farivar.

Disabled Veteran Cleared: Video Proves Cops, Prosecutors Faked Punitive Charges

Washington Parish, LA resident and disabled veteran Douglas Dendinger’s life was flipped upside-down around two years ago when he agreed to serve a court summons to former police officer Chad Cassard, who was accused of brutalizing Dendinger’s nephew. In exchange for $50, Dendinger agreed to deliver the paperwork to the ex-officer as he left a court hearing at the Washington Parish Courthouse. As Dendinger carried out the routine legal procedure, the reaction of a group of police officers and prosecutors standing by alarmed him. He told WWL-TV, “It was like sticking a stick in a bee’s nest… They started cursing me. They threw the summons at me. Right at my face, but it fell short. Vulgarities. I just didn’t know what to think. I was a little shocked.”

Afterward, Dendinger went straight home. Upon his arrival, the situation escalated. “Within about 20 minutes, there were these bright lights shining through my windows. It was like, ‘Oh my God.’ I mean I knew immediately, a police car… And that’s when the nightmare started… I was arrested.” Dendinger, who had a prior conviction, was charged with simple battery, intimidating a witness, and obstruction of justice, a concoction of charges so serious that he faced 80 years behind bars, a virtual life sentence.

Initially, Dendinger thought the charges had been some kind of mix up, as many police officers were there to witness the fact that he did not commit a crime. However, it eventually became clear that those on the scene had fabricated charges against him, accusing him of physically attacking the summons recipient. Two St. Tammany prosecutors, Leigh Anne Wall and Julie Knight, gave statements to police implicating Dendinger. Said Knight in a police report on the incident, “We could hear the slap as he hit Cassard’s chest with an envelope of papers… This was done in a manner to threaten and intimidate everyone involved.” Ex-officer Chad Cassard also said that Dendinger had slapped him in the chest, and Washington Parish court attorney Pamela Legendre likened the paperwork hand-off to a punch. Local Police Chief Joe Culpepper even said that he had witnessed the fabricated attack, though he later backtracked and said that he was not present.

Astonishingly, a routine attempt to serve court paperwork in public was being falsely portrayed as a violent crime by public officials in an attempt to punish Dendinger for serving the ex-cop with a lawsuit. Former St. Tammany District Attorney Walter Reed filed charges against Dendinger. Seven witnesses gave statements characterizing the paperwork hand-off as a violent attack. Philip Kaplan, Dendinger’s lawyer, said, “They had a plan. The plan was to really go after him and put him away. That’s scary.”

However, the conspiracy against Dendinger began to fall apart when his wife produced cell phone video of the hand-off, which Dendinger had her take in an effort to prove he had delivered the paperwork. Kaplan pushed for then-District Attorney Reed to recuse himself of the case, and it was transferred to the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, where the charges were dropped after officials reviewed the cell phone video of the incident, seen in the above-embedded video by WWL-TV.

The disabled Dendinger spent over a year fighting the charges and incurred significant legal fees. He is suing Washington Parish Sheriff Randy “Country” Seal, former District Attorney Walter Reed, prosecutors Julie Knight and Leigh Anne Wall, and the police officers on the scene for perjury, abuse of due process, false arrest, false imprisonment, and fabricated evidence. Charges have yet to be filed against the public officials who fabricated charges against Dendinger. Falsifying a police report is a felony.

David Cressy, a former prosecutor, told WWL-TV, “He’d still be in a world of trouble if he didn’t have that film… It was him against all of them. They took advantage of that and said all sorts of fictitious things happened. And it didn’t happen. It would still be going like that had they not had the film.”

Sheriff Randy Seal issued a statement on the lawsuit, saying, “We are confident that all claims against all WPSO deputies will be rejected and dismissed by the court.”

‘Right to Try’ bill in Oklahoma moves forward

Legislation has been approved by the Oklahoma House committee which would allow terminally ill patients to have access to experimental medications which are not yet available to the public.

Rep. Richard Morrissette (D) is the author of the Oklahoma version of the Right to Try bill. Morrissette has said, according to the AP, this bill can give new hope to terminally ill patients “that one of these experimental drugs will hit the mark.”

The House Public Health Committee voted 10-0 on Tuesday in favor of pushing the bill forward for consideration by the full House. A number of other states, such as Arizona, Colorado, and Louisiana already have similar bills in place.

The Daily Journal reports the U.S. Food and Drug Administration already allows terminally ill patients to seek to undergo experimental medications. However, it usually takes hundreds of hours to complete the paperwork and for the paperwork to make its way through the proper government channels before it is approved. Many terminally ill patients die while waiting to receive government approval to undergo these new medical treatments.

Christina Sandefur is an attorney for the Goldwater Institute, a conservative public policy group, and she said, “These are people whose days, hours, even minutes may be numbered.”

There would be some requirements when it comes to receiving the experimental medications even if the bill were to pass.

One requirement is a terminally ill patients doctor must approve of the usage of the medication before moving forward. The patient in question would also have to acknowledge the medication they would be receiving poses potential risks o their health and well-being. The company who develops the drug must also be willing to make the medication available to the patient.

The bill would also allow pharmaceutical companies to deploy experimental treatment devices in the same manner as the experimental medications.

The full bill can be read here.

Layoffs Begin as States React to Major Drop in Oil Prices

Given the major drop in the price of crude oil, states that are dependent on the revenue from oil and gas, such as Texas, Alaska, and Louisiana, are now preparing for the effect the falling prices will have on their local economies.

The Advocate reported that oil prices, which dropped from $106 a barrel in June, to $55.73 a barrel in December, experienced a “47 percent price decline in less than six months.”

According to Reuters, this major drop in crude oil prices was met with “at least a dozen U.S. energy companies” being forced to cut spending plans for next year, which is “bad news for states that rely on jobs, wealth and tax income they provide.

The Associated Press reported that the Governor of Alaska, Bill Walker, “halted new spending on six high-profile projects,” on Friday, citing the state’s “$3.5 billion budget deficit, which has increased as oil prices have dropped sharply.

According to the New York Times, in Texas, after “2,300 oil and gas jobs” were cut in October and November, Hercules Offshore in Houston has announced that it will “lay off about 300 employees who work on the company’s rigs in the Gulf of Mexico” by the end of December.

Reuters reported that following the layoffs, realtors in Texas are “predicting a sharp decline, up to 12 percent, in home sales next year.”

According to RT, Louisiana’s 2015-16 budget will be “$1.4 billion short, with 162 state government positions already eliminated and more to be discontinued.”

Dale Doucet, an energy trader for Brock Investor Service in Lafayette, Louisiana, told The Advocate that the price of oil could fall further, but he predicts that the cut in production, along with the rising world demand, will raise prices in 2015.

When you go into these pricing extremes, it really stresses the system and exposes vulnerabilities,” Doucet said.

Kristy Nichols, the chief budget advisor to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, said that when creating future budgets, they are re-examining everything in the oil and gas industry.

Our approach to the 2016 budget includes a full review of every activity in every agency’s budget and the cost associated with them,” said Nichols. “Nothing is off the table at this point.”

While the current decline in oil prices has had a major effect, the New York Times reported that the situation today “could have been far worse if oil-producing states had failed to diversify their economies,” following the last major drop in the 1980s.

Judge Strikes Down Baton Rouge Law Banning Guns Where Alcohol Is Sold

According to The Times-Picayune, Chief US District Judge Brian Jackson issued an order on Monday overturning a city-level ordinance in Baton Rouge that banned the possession of firearms on the property of any establishment where alcohol is sold. The particular ordinance in question went further than the typical civic ban on guns in bars by additionally banning guns anywhere alcoholic drinks of any kind are sold in any way, including grocery stores, gas stations, and the parking lots of those establishments. Judge Jackson cited the Second Amendment to the US Constitution as a part of the rationale behind his decision.

In the case in question, Earnest Taylor was pulled over in October of 2012 for forgetting to turn his headlights on after leaving a local bar. During the stop, he voluntarily informed officers that he had two lawfully-owned rifles in his car, and, even though he had not carried them into the bar, was arrested for having had them in his car in the bar’s parking lot. The Times-Picayune quotes the Judge’s order as saying, “When [Taylor] explained to [the officers] his understanding that he was allowed to carry the guns inside of his vehicle, the officers responded that there was a ‘new law’ that made it illegal for anyone to possess a firearm in the parking lot of an establishment that sold alcohol.”

Judge Jackson argued that the ordinance violates citizens’ Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms by banning the possession of firearms inside vehicles in locations that merely sell alcohol without allowing it to be consumed on the premises, including places like grocery stores, gas stations, and their parking lots. He also pointed out the fact that the ordinance effectively banned the sale of firearms at Walmart, as anyone purchasing one there would be violating the law.

In presenting his case, Taylor indicated that, despite the fact that he had not carried the weapons into an establishment serving alcohol, he had been arrested and his guns had been seized. Since anyone driving around the city might have to stop at a gas station where alcohol is sold, the law would give officers the discretion to apply the ordinance to virtually any law-abiding gun owner carrying a firearm in his or her car.

It is worth noting that Judge Jackson’s order and Taylor’s case did not address state and city-wide bans on the possession of guns inside establishments like bars that serve alcohol by the drink. Those restrictions remain on the books. However, Judge Jackson issued an order prohibiting police from enforcing Baton Rouge’s far-reaching law that expanded that ban to include grocery stores, gas stations, and parking lots of places that sell alcohol.

The Judge directed the city to return Taylor’s firearms and to pay an as-yet undetermined amount of monetary damages, which will be calculated in a future hearing.

Food Stamps Used To Buy Lingerie In Louisiana

Kiss My Lingerie in Louisiana has been accepting Electronic Benefits Transfer cards as payment, according to a video report by KSLA-TV. Recipients of the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)” receive Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. The cards, which are the contemporary version of “food stamps,” look and function like a debit card but are only supposed to be used to purchase food.

The Louisiana lingerie store has reportedly been accepting EBT cards for over eight months, suggesting misuse of welfare benefits that is potentially significant in scope.

KSLA-TV reported that the store owner accepts food stamps as payment so that he “does not discriminate against customers.”

One unidentified woman told the station, “We were told anything could be purchased there, with the food stamp card. No child I know eats edible underwear… It’s still the taxpayers dollars that are being used in a store like that and that really upsets me.”

In some states, EBT cards may be used to purchase items necessary to “family needs,” in addition to food. It is nearly impossible to make the argument that lingerie fits into that category.

After several national media outlets picked up the story, Kiss My Lingerie’s owners attempted to vehemently insist that they never accepted EBT cards as payment. One employee from Kiss My Lingerie said, “We don’t accept that for adult toys. No, no way.”

The extreme, left-leaning “news site” called “Americans Against the Tea Party” (AATTP) accused several outlets, including the libertarian magazine “Reason,” of publishing a story “based on lies… [it] seems like an obvious attempt to turn Louisiana residents against the food stamp program.” AATTP reported that Reason “didn’t really fact check too well before they published this piece.”

But it is AATTP that didn’t fact check. The picture below shows Kiss My Lingerie’s front door with an “EBT Accepted Here” sign on it. KSLA-TV’s full video report can be viewed here.

Screenshot 2014-03-15 at 1.37.18 AM

This story signifies a serious problem in the food stamp program. While many may blame Kiss My Lingerie for welfare abuse in this instance, the blame should be instead placed on the federal Department of Agriculture, where the root of the problem lies. SNAP has become so mammoth in size that EBT cards have become a common, acceptable form of payment in many situations. What was once meant to be a small-scale program to help struggling families put food on the table has become a way for the federal government to subsidize various wants and needs for one-sixth of the U.S. population.

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