Federal prosecutors on Monday charged a former Iberia Parish sheriff’s deputy with a civil rights violation for allegedly striking a handcuffed man who was taken into custody during a New Iberia street party in September 2013.
Cody Laperouse faces a misdemeanor civil rights charge in the incident, which attracted widespread media attention when a video of the alleged beating surfaced days later on YouTube.
Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal fired Laperouse and asked the FBI to investigate the case, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Ryan Turner said Monday.
“Sheriff Ackal terminated him immediately after conducting his own internal investigation,” Turner said.
He declined further comment.
The criminal charge against the ex-deputy comes as federal authorities are investigating a second incident involving the Sheriff’s Office — the March 2014 death of Victor White III.
The Iberia Parish coroner ruled that the 22-year-old White, of New Iberia, shot himself while handcuffed in the back of a Sheriff’s Office cruiser, but relatives and civil rights advocates dispute that finding.
The charges against Laperouse are in connection to the Sheriff’s Office’s response to a large party on Hopkins Street following New Iberia’s annual Sugar Cane Festival.
The victim in the case, Christopher Butler, alleges in a federal lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Office that he had approached a group of deputies to ask why they had taken his brother-in-law into custody.
Butler alleges the deputies handcuffed him and then one of the deputies struck him with a baton several times and continued to strike him while he lay on his stomach.
Laperouse is one of four deputies named as defendants in the lawsuit, but the lawsuit does not specify which deputy allegedly beat Butler.
The formal charges filed Monday against Laperouse state that Butler, identified only by his initials, was “under arrest with his hands handcuffed behind his back” when the deputy “struck and assaulted” him.
The Sheriff’s Office faces two other excessive force lawsuits in federal court over the incident, one from Butler’s brother-in-law, David Hardin, and the other from Aundrea L. Moore, who alleges Laperouse slammed her to the ground after she saw Butler in custody and approached to ask if she could call his family.
The Sheriff’s Office has settled Moore’s lawsuit, according to court records, but the terms were not available Monday evening.
Follow Richard Burgess on Twitter, @rbb100.