Posted: Feb 22, 2012 10:14 PM by Maddie Garrett
Updated: Feb 22, 2012 10:25 PM
More consequences could be on the way for those involved in a Mardi Gras fight, including a legal battle and changes to parade rules. Police arrested Lafayette developer Glenn Stewart after officials said he punched a woman, Erin May Fitzgerald, in the face, knocking her unconscious. He's currently charged with felony second degree battery.
It all started with Stewart's float that ran in the Independent Parade. It featured a large cutout of Fitzgerald's stepmother, Cherry Fisher May, one of the Independent Weekly Publishers. A banner pinned to the side of the float mentioned her DUI charge. Police said Fitzgerald tried to remove the banner.
The feud between Stewart and May has been ongoing for almost a year now, after the weekly paper published a series of stories that featured Stewart regarding tax exemptions.
There are also legal ramifications that could result from the controversial Mardi Gras float and the fight that took place because of it. Rules for floats in the Independent Parade could change next year and Dr. Glen Stewart could lose his medical license.
"It's outrageous, we don't really have words at this point," said Independent Weekly Managing Editor Walter Pierce of the incident.
Pierce said Fitzgerald's stepfather, John St. Julien, took photographs after she was knocked out. Pierce said he is confident those photographs show Stewart taking pictures of the unconscious woman.
"Glenn Stewart, a physician, knocked a 41-year-old mom and teacher unconscious and then stood over her unconscious body and took photographs with his cell phone. And when he was done he walked over to his float and repaired his float rather than repair the damage he inflicted on Erin May Fitzgerald," said Pierce.
KATC has not been able to independently confirm what actions Stewart took after the alleged punches were thrown. If he didn't help her, he could lose his medical license because he failed to render aid. A phone call to Stewart Wednesday evening has gone unanswered.
From a legal standpoint, Attorney Daniel Landry said the signs on the float are controversial and bring up the issue of defamation.
"There's a question of defamation from both a civil basis and a criminal basis, there is a criminal statute of defamation. It's going to be very fact intensive," he explained.
While Stewart paid all fees and met regulations for his float, Independent Parade Organizers said they weren't aware of its content and said this type of signage should not be allowed. In a written statement, Chairman Mike Mitchell said "they can't let this ever happen again. This can't be in our parade." He said the committee will re-examine their signage rules.
Other charges could also follow. Photographer and stepfather of the victim, John St. Julien has been summoned to court for disturbing the peace by fighting. Police said he stepped in when Stewart and Fitzgerald were arguing then a fight ensued between the two men. Fitzgerald is also summoned for disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct.