Two St. Landry Parish correctional officer have been fired and arrested for battery on an inmate and malfeasance in office.
According to Sheriff Bobby J. Guidroz, “On September 21, 2020, St. Landry Parish Detectives were assigned to investigate a use of force complaint that occurred on an inmate inside of the parish jail.”
During the course of the investigation, detectives reviewed video footage of the incident. The video depicted an inmate being placed into a restraint chair by correction officers, Damien Anderson and Zachary Herpin. While the two correctional officers were placing the inmate into the restraint chair, the inmate was being verbally abusive. Correctional Officer Anderson is seen grabbing the inmate by the neck and yelling at him. The inmate continued to be verbally abusive when Anderson attempted to remove the restraint straps on the chair. Anderson then punched the inmate in the face multiple times, according to Deputy Chief Eddie Thibodeaux, spokesperson for the Sheriff's Office. Immediately after Anderson punched the inmate, Herpin was also seen punching the inmate in the face.
Approximately 20 minutes later, the inmate was able to escape from the restraint chair while in his cell, Thibodeaux stated. When another deputy entered the cell to subdue him, he was punched in the face by the inmate, according to investigators. The deputy was able to restrain the inmate. Herpin then entered the cell and sprayed the inmate while he was subdued. Anderson is seen on video returning to the cell and began to escort the inmate to the shower for O.C. decontamination. According to investigators, Anderson is then seen slamming the inmates head into a concrete wall near the decontamination room while the inmate was still handcuffed behind his back.
The investigation revealed that in the first incident, although the inmate was verbally abusive, he posed little to no threat to the two officers and received an unlawful use of force, according to the Sheriff. In the second incident, the inmate escaped from the restraint chair but was subdued by another deputy and was not being combative. Herpin then entered the cell and sprayed the inmate with O.C. spray and escalated the situation, according to Thibodeaux. While Anderson was escorting the inmate to the decontamination shower, he was handcuffed behind his back when Anderson slammed his head into the wall. The inmate was no longer resisting when this occurred.
Sheriff Bobby J. Guidroz stated, “I am very disappointed that two of my own correctional officers used an unlawful use of force. We train our officers on the proper use of force, de-escalation techniques, and voice command controls.”
Guidroz added, “The complaint was lodged on September 16th and I immediately placed them on leave until the investigation was fully investigated and completed. After the investigation revealed an illegal use of force was found, we charged the two officers and terminated them.”
Damien Anderson was charged with three counts of battery and malfeasance in office. Zachary Herpin was charged with two counts of simple battery and malfeasance in office.
“Anytime any officer uses unnecessary force to restrain an arrestee or inmate in custody, they will be investigated, and the correct disciplinary action will be administered,” Guidroz stated.
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