A Crowley police officer used an anonymous YouTube account to post body-camera video of a Crowley couple’s arrests because he suspected the justice system would show bias in favor of the pair of attorneys, according to new documents filed in a federal lawsuit in the case.
Officer Jacob Primeaux admitted in a deposition to using a cellphone to record the body-camera footage taken of Clay and Mitzi LeJeune’s arrests as that video played on a Crowley Police Department’s computer screen. Primeaux called the video he created using the phone “Attorney Clay Lejeune Gone Wild.”
“I wanted it — I wanted the public to know what happened. That would protect us as officers, the officers involved. Because I felt like the case was going to get dropped, which it — I mean, it was. So I just wanted everyone else to know what occurred,” Primeaux said, according to a transcribed version of his deposition filed in the court record.
A grand jury in December indicted Clay LeJeune, 46, on three counts of public intimidation and two counts of resisting when he became irate after officers entered his home, claiming they heard screaming inside. His wife, 41-year-old Mitzi LeJeune, was charged with one count of public intimidation on allegations she threatened an officer’s job.
In June, 7th Judicial District Attorney Bradley Burget dismissed all charges against the LeJeunes. The Attorney General’s Office appointed Burget to the couple’s case in April, as the LeJeunes both work primarily in the 15th Judicial District.
The couple’s federal lawsuit is still pending against Crowley Police Chief K.P. Gibson, Primeaux and three other officers on the scene during the arrest.
In that lawsuit, the couple alleges police kicked their front door off its hinges, held Clay LeJeune’s two children at gunpoint and shocked him repeatedly with a stun gun when responding to a 911 call from a neighbor who mistakenly thought she heard someone in distress. The leaked video begins only after the officers made entry into the home.
Attorneys for the officers filed a motion earlier this month to dismiss some of the claims in that lawsuit, including that Primeaux’s posting of the video did not spoil evidence, taint secret grand-jury proceedings or deprive the LeJeunes of their right to privacy because their charges ultimately were dismissed.
Clay Burgess, the Lafayette attorney representing the LeJeunes, cites Primeaux’s testimony in a response to that motion, along with a deposition from Gibson.
“The dissemination was a deliberate attempt to taint the jurors and the public opinion,” Burgess wrote.
Primeaux worked at the Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office when he released the video — about the time the LeJeunes were charged and the lawsuit filed — but Gibson rehired him in May. Both Gibson and Primeaux testified the officer confessed to releasing the video at that time.
Although Primeaux removed his video from YouTube a few hours after posting it, another video soon was leaked to the media through a file-sharing website. The video included text superimposed over an actual version of Primeaux’s body-camera footage that attempts to debunk claims the LeJeunes made in their federal lawsuit.
The depositions also detail shortcomings with the department’s body-camera policy when the video was leaked.
Every police and city court employee had access to the computer where the videos were stored, and the user name and password were taped to the monitor.
Now, one sergeant takes all the cameras after a shift and uploads them in a secure room, Gibson said in his deposition.
Gibson did not respond on Thursday to a request for comment.
Clay LeJeune, who also runs a private practice in Crowley, also works as a contract defense attorney for the Public Defenders Office. Mitzi LeJeune works as a law clerk for Judge Thomas Duplantier.
Follow Lanie Lee Cook on Twitter, @lanieleecook, or contact her by phone at (337) 534-0825.