A robbery suspect has filed a federal lawsuit alleging he was set up by a Breaux Bridge police detective who has since resigned, mirroring allegations in a criminal perjury case against the former officer.
Stephan M. Barker, 21, is seeking unspecified compensation for mental anguish, trauma, criminal defense expenses and other damages from Raymond Calais, 34, who left the force earlier this year after questions arose over his investigation of Barker.
“Most people in America do not think that could happen to them, where they could be set up for a major felony crime they did not commit,” said Barker’s attorney, James Domengeaux.
Barker still faces charges in connection with the robbery, but the alleged actions of the officer have raised questions about the evidence.
At issue in the lawsuit and the perjury case against Calais is the photo lineup identification that led to Barker’s arrest in the September 2010 armed robbery at Russell’s Food Mart on Rees Street in Breaux Bridge.
The potential problem arose earlier this year, when Calais testified at a court hearing in Barker’s case that the store manager had accidentally seen detectives interviewing Barker before correctly picking him out of a photo lineup.
Barker’s defense attorney argued at the court hearing that prosecutors should be blocked from using the lineup as evidence because the store manager likely chose Barker as the suspect only because he saw a detective interviewing the man.
Before making a decision on whether to toss the evidence, 16th Judicial District Judge John Conery summoned the store manager to the courthouse to question him about the lineup.
The store manager’s recollection bore little resemblance to what Calais had told the judge, according to a transcript of the court hearing.
Calais had testified that the store manager just happened to stop by the police station when Barker was being interviewed, but the store manager testified that Calais had brought him there.
Calais testified that the store manager unintentionally saw a video monitor in the police station that showed Barker being interviewed, but the store manager said Calais had told him to watch the monitor before showing him the photo lineup.
The conflicting testimony led to the perjury charges in July against Calais, who is awaiting trial.
His attorney, Harold Register, declined comment.
Barker alleges in the federal lawsuit that Calais also intimidated alibi witnesses who can corroborate that Barker was not involved in the robbery.
Conery has blocked prosecutors from using the photo lineup as evidence against Barker.
The criminal charges are still pending against Barker, but it is unclear what evidence remains in the case.
Prosecutors said during a pretrial hearing that the store had a security camera but that it did not capture footage clear enough to identify the robber.
Calais had testified in a pretrial hearing that the sole reason Barker was brought in for questioning was that the store manager remembered the robber saying he was “desperate” for money.
Another officer had allegedly remembered Barker making a similar statement a few days earlier when the man complained about his broken truck, according to court testimony.
Barker’s lawsuit also names as defendants the city of Breaux Bridge and former Breaux Bridge Police Chief Charles Thibodeaux, who led the department at the time of the robbery investigation.