Posted: Jun 20, 2012 5:16 PM by KATC
Updated: Jun 20, 2012 6:27 PM
Police Chief Jim Craft responds after a video surfaced of two of his officers arresting a St. Martin Parish man in downtown Lafayette. The arrest shows two officers in a physical altercation with the suspect, Morris Thomas. The incident happened on Friday, June 18, 2010 at 12:50 a.m. in the parking lot of Karma at 314 Jefferson Street.
The chief says the officers seen in the video were responding to a fight where the victim sustained a facial injury. Police say the suspect, Thomas, was screaming and yelling as officers approached him. The officers say they responded with physical force after Morris tried pulling away from them. In the altercation, one officer received minor injuries after he says he was struck twice in the face. Thomas was initially charged with 2nd degree battery, aggravated battery of a police officer, battery of a police officer, resisting an officer, and disturbing the peace.
The department reviewed the video and found that the officers did not violate a LPD policy.
Below is a timeline provided by The Lafayette Police Department regarding the incident:
June 18, 2010- Initial Incident
July 8, 2010- Morris Thomas III contacts LPD, concerning the filing of a complaint against the officers involved. Mr. Thomas indicates that he resides out-of-state.
July 9, 2010- Morris Thomas III is mailed (certified mail) statement forms by an LPD Internal Affairs Investigator.
August 2, 2010- Internal Affairs investigator makes phone contact with Morris Thomas III, to check on the status of the statement forms.
September 8, 2010- Chief of Police Jim Craft informs Internal Affairs Investigator of video footage involving LPD Officers.
September 13, 2010- Internal Affairs Investigator views the video and obtains a copy from a local attorney.
September 23, 2010- Chief of Police Jim Craft drafts a letter to FBI, asking them to investigate the incident and video. Chief Craft feels that the FBI is agency needed, due to Morris Thomas III residing out-of-state. Chief Craft is also concerned about a conflict of interest, due to the ongoing litigation involving Karma Nite Club at the time of the incident.
October 12, 2010- FBI notifies Chief of Police Jim Craft that an official investigation was started.
November 19, 2010- FBI requests from LPD all documents and evidence.
November 30, 2010- LPD complies with the FBI request for documents and evidence.
August 11, 2011- Morris Thomas III pleads guilty in District Court to Resisting an Officer and Simple Battery. Mr. Thomas never follows through with his initial complaint to Internal Affairs.
Chief Jim Craft says "to imply that this matter was not properly handled by LPD is incorrect and irresponsible."
The FBI does not comment on on-going or closed investigations.
Read the initial story, and see the video caught on tape by clicking HERE.