Officer central to Vermilion Parish teacher arrest has been sued - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Officer central to Vermilion Parish teacher arrest has been sued before for excessive force

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The deputy marshal who arrested a Vermilion Parish teacher during a school board meeting has already been sued at least once for excessive force.

A federal lawsuit alleges that when the officer worked for the Scott Police Department, a 62-year-old man accused him and another officer of shoving him against a building and slamming his head on a concrete slab.

The force caused a fractured rib and a head wound that required six staples, according to the lawsuit.

The man, who suffered from medical conditions that put him at high risk for "free bleeding," had been telling the officers they were enforcing city-ordered grass maintenance on the wrong property, according to the lawsuit.

Attorneys for the two parties settled the lawsuit in 2016.

KATC Investigates has previously obtained several years of employment data for Acadiana-area law enforcement agencies. Those records show the Scott Police Department terminated the officer in November 2011, a little more than a month after the Sept. 21, 2011 incident detailed in the lawsuit.

Scott Police Chief Chad Leger declined on Wednesday to comment on the officer's personnel record.

The officer is now an Abbeville city marshal who works as a Vermilion Parish school resource officer and provides off-duty security at the parish's school board meetings.

He also previously worked for the Breaux Bridge Police Department before that, assistant chief Terry Latiolais said on Wednesday. The dates of his employment were not immediately available.

The deputy marshal arrested Rene Rost Middle School teacher Deyshia Hargrave on Monday after ejecting her from a school board meeting, where she had spoken out against the superintendent's pay raise.

Hargrave had been recognized to speak, and she asked Superintendent Jerome Puyau how he could accept a pay raise in his latest three-year contract, which the board approved that evening in a 5-3 vote. In a previous comment, Hargrave had said teachers hadn't gotten a raise in years, even as classroom sizes were growing along with resource constraints.

Board President Anthony Fontana interrupted her comments, saying they weren't "germane" to the issue at hand — Puyau's contract. As Puyau began to speak directly to Hargrave, the deputy marshal approached Hargrave and told her to leave the meeting.

At once point, the deputy marshal reached to grab her, and she jumped back. She pointed out that Puyau was speaking to her and questioned why the officer was asking her to leave, but then she grabbed her things and left.

As other audience members uttered disappointed comments about her removal, Hargrave's screams could be heard coming from the nearby hallway. A KATC photographer then captured her on the ground in handcuffs, with the deputy marshal standing behind her.

The Abbeville marshal has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

For all of KATC's coverage of this story, click here.

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