OPELOUAS, La. — KATC is getting answers on why felony charges were filed against an Opelousas Police officer eight months after he was accused of battery on an 18-year-old in a hospital room.
We're told COVID-19 may have been a factor in that. We know that the incident happened on October 31, 2019.
Opelousas Police Chief Martin Mclendon says he learned of the incident two weeks later and immediately asked state police to investigate.
They finished that investigation on February 7th and gave their findings to the St. Landry Parish District Attorney's office.
The D.A.'s office says they were ready to bring the case before a grand jury March 16th but then COVID-19 hit. Fast forward to today, the officer bonded out of jail on a $25,000 bond and faces up to 25 years behind bars.
Tyron Andrepont surrendered to sheriff's deputies this morning. He's charged with five counts of malfeasance, accused of committing a battery.
We also found out this isn't his first time facing discipline for his actions as a police officer.
"We've seen a lot of incidents happen like this throughout the country where these young men become hashtags. But Jonah is able to tell his story of what happened to him with the hope that this happened to no one else," said Daryl Kevin Washington, Jonah Coleman's attorney.
Attorney Daryl Kevin Washington says his client, 18-year-old Jonah Coleman was beaten by Opelousas Police officer, Tyron Andrepont while in a room at Opelousas General Hospital in October 2019.
Washington says no weapons were involved but the officer's arm was at one point, around Coleman's neck. He also says it was caught on camera.
"As we have conducted more investigation, into the situation, we have discovered that there have been other similar incidents with this same officer," said Washington.
KATC Investigates uncovered Andrepont was disciplined at least four times while working at the Opelousas Police Department.
Most recently, he was given a written reprimand in April 2019 for a violation of the department's order on courtesy.
In 2011, he was suspended for eight hours for violating a rule forbidding officers to use tobacco in a vehicle when passengers are present.
In 2008, Andrepont was suspended for two weeks and ordered to take anger management classes for unauthorized use of force.
In 2006, he was suspended for twelve hours, also for his behavior.
"If they're willing to put their life on the line and risk a career, shame on you if you
get so out of control that you would make a mistake and end your career."
Chief Mclendon says this isn't the first time he's taken action because of something one of his officers did and would do it again.
"I hope the findings are not accurate. I will let the records and the investigation speak for itself and takes it's course. My position is that I will stand in solidarity with the people that if you've done something, that violates a person or abuses a person, then you should never wear that uniform," said Mclendon.
We are still looking into if there were other complaints or disciplinary actions taken against Andrepont during his time in Opelousas.
We do know there is a pending civil lawsuit. A minister claims Andrepont pulled him over in 2010 and attacked him without warning after accusing him of stealing. He said he was kicked in the shin, put in a choke hold, then thrown against the car before eventually being brought to jail.
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