Former Iberia deputy sentenced for slapping handcuffed man

by Patrick Flanagan

Is a one day stay in jail sufficient punishment for a former Iberia Parish deputy for assaulting a handcuffed man?

Is a one day stay in jail sufficient punishment for a former Iberia Parish deputy who assaulted a handcuffed man?

That was the punishment doled out Monday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick Hanna to former Iberia Parish Sheriff’s deputy Cody Laperouse. Monday’s sentence stems from an altercation during the 2013 Sugar Cane Festival in which Laperouse struck a handcuffed black man in the West End of New Iberia. Along with spending a day in jail, Laperouse was also ordered to pay a $2,000 fine, attend anger management classes and perform 200 hours of community service.

The Advocate reports:

Hanna said the sentence he gave Laperouse is appropriate for someone who has remained employed and had never been in criminal trouble before Sept. 29, 2013. Early that morning, Laperouse and other deputies in New Iberia tried to disperse a crowd on Hopkins Street that had gathered for a street party during the Sugar Cane Festival.

Laperouse struck Christopher Butler, whose hands were cuffed behind his back. The assault was witnessed by other festival revelers, one of whom recorded the incident on a cellphone and later posted the video on YouTube.

Butler claims in a federal lawsuit against the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office that he was only trying to ask deputies during the Sugar Cane Festival why they had arrested his brother-in-law.

After an internal Sheriff’s Office investigation, which followed the YouTube video, Sheriff Louis Ackal fired Laperouse.

Laperouse’ case is one of a number of complaints of excessive force and police misconduct hanging over the head of Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal, who is currently in the midst of what will arguably be his toughest reelection campaign to date.

The Advocate’s report continues:

In 16th Judicial District Court in New Iberia, a class-action lawsuit is ongoing. It stems from a Hopkins Street incident at the 2006 Sugar Cane Festival where tear gas was employed to break up a crowd deemed unruly.

In fall 2014, the U.S. Justice Department announced it had begun an investigation into the death of Victor White III.

White, 22, died last year from a single gunshot wound to the front side of his chest. White had been arrested and searched before he was placed in the rear seat of a Sheriff’s Office patrol car, his hands cuffed behind his back. The Iberia Parish Coroner’s Office ruled the death a suicide.

In March, the mother of White’s child filed a federal wrongful-death suit against the Sheriff’s Office.

All the suits remain open.

Read more here.