A prominent Crowley attorney alleges in a federal lawsuit filed Friday that police kicked the door to his stately Victorian home off its hinges, held his 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 lawsuit comes two days after a grand jury indicted J. Clay LeJeune, 45, and his wife, Mitzi Mayeaux, 40, for allegedly threatening and arguing with police after the officers responded to the 911 call on May 25 at the couple’s home on North Avenue G in Crowley.
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages for civil rights violations, also alleges Crowley Police Chief K.P. Gibson might have had a vendetta against LeJeune and his wife because “they knew of certain personal indiscretions” of the chief.
The couple’s attorney in the civil case, Clay Burgess, declined to elaborate on the allegation.
Gibson said in an email that he did not know what “indiscretions” were being referenced.
“He hasn’t addressed anything with me,” Gibson said.
Police were responding to a report that someone in the backyard might have been screaming “help me,” said Barry Sallinger, the couple’s defense attorney in the criminal case.
Sallinger said the neighbor likely heard the couple’s teenage daughter yelling “daddy,” calling her father to help her capture the family’s Yorkshire terrier after the dog escaped from an electronic fence.
“The indictments come on the heels of a home invasion and how a good family reacted to it,” Sallinger said Thursday.
The lawsuit alleges that officers made no effort to speak to the 911 caller but instead kicked in the door to the home with guns drawn, and in the confrontation that followed, officers took LeJeune to the ground and shocked him with a stun gun at least three times while he was being held face down on his front porch, with one officer yelling a string of profanities.
Gibson said he stands by his officers, but he declined detailed comment on the allegations in the lawsuit.
In the indictment returned Wednesday, LeJeune faces three counts of public intimidation, accused of threatening the officers, and two counts of resisting a police officer with force or violence.
Mayeaux, who also is an attorney and works as a law clerk for 15th Judicial District Judge Thomas Duplantier, faces a charge of public intimidation.
The state Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the case.
LeJeune works as a contract defense attorney for the 15th Judicial District Public Defender’s Office.
Attorney G. Paul Marx, who oversees the office, said Friday he did his own review of the May 25 incident and has come to the conclusion the police chief “seems to have lost command and control” of his officers.
“The events were precipitated by an officer who refused to de-escalate his violent conduct, and instead provoked a man to defend his home and family solely with his words,” Marx said in a written statement.
Marx said LeJeune will continue to serve as a public defender.
“Unlike the chief, I took the time to investigate the matter, but having done so, I’m backing up this talented attorney and his family because the facts show his anger at a home invasion was justified, and arresting people for their words in response to illegal action is nonsense,” Marx said.
The couple’s lawsuit also alleges that one of the officers can be heard on a body-camera recording stating that LeJeune “is the one that always has Theresa Richard’s back.”
Richard is the Crowley woman who filed a lawsuit against the city and Police Department earlier this month after being arrested twice over the past year for video recording police officers on the job, once on a remaining after forbidden charge and the second time on counts of interfering with an investigation and public intimidation.
All the counts against Richard have been dismissed, according to her lawsuit.
The federal lawsuit filed Friday names as defendants Gibson, the city of Crowley and Officers William “Billy” Brown, Skeat Thibodeaux, Jacob Primeaux and David Melancon.
Follow Richard Burgess on Twitter, @rbb100.