LAFAYETTE - During a January 2010 traffic stop, state Rep. Bobby Badon dropped the names of several high-ranking law enforcement officials, told the investigating trooper that “I’m not just a regular citizen” and pleaded for “a little leniency,” according to video from the traffic stop.
Trooper James Lazard stopped Badon, D-Carencro, about 11:30 p.m. on Jan. 18, 2010, after Badon’s truck crossed over the fog line during a left turn onto La. 182 from La. 726, according to the trooper’s DWI arrest report.
“Immediately upon coming into contact with Mr. Badon, I observed obvious signs of intoxication, which included the strong odor of alcoholic beverages emitting from his breath as he spoke with slurred speech, glassy bloodshot eyes, and unsure balance as he rocked back and forth,” Lazard wrote in the report.
The Advocate submitted a public record request to State Police for a copy of the video and the narrative report after 15th Judicial District Judge Herman Clause ruled last week that there was no basis for the traffic stop that ultimately led to Badon’s first-offense DWI charge.
Clause sided with Badon’s defense attorney, Barry J. Sallinger, who argued that Badon made a wide left turn that was in compliance with state law.
The ruling meant all evidence gathered after the stop was inadmissible in court, including the 0.125 percent breath sample Badon submitted about an hour later.
After the ruling, Assistant District Attorney Greg Williams said the judge’s decision meant the case was “dead.” He said he did not intend to appeal the ruling.
The 27-minute video begins shortly before Badon turns left from La. 726 onto La. 182. The trooper follows Badon for nearly a minute before Badon stops on St. Pierre Street.
Soon after the legislator exits his vehicle, Badon begins to plead with Lazard to let him go home, telling the trooper he lives about “four or five houses” down the street.
Badon tells Lazard he was coming home from a party at a restaurant with St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz and others. When Lazard asks Badon if he had had anything to drink, Badon replies, “I did. I did. But I’m not asking for no trouble.”
Badon then says he was going to call his chief, referring to Carencro Police Chief Carlos Stout, “but I don’t have to. I believe we can handle it diplomatically.”
When the trooper asks Badon if he would be willing to take a field sobriety tests, Badon replies, “I probably couldn’t pass it. We had a little party with Bobby Guidroz.”
Badon then tells Lazard he would appreciate if the trooper could cut him a little slack, because “we’re all kind of guilty of it.”
Badon tells Lazard he cannot afford to have the news media catch wind of this.
Through his attorney, Badon released the following statement Monday:
“While I was cleared of the charges against me, I admit that my behavior on that night was improper. I was upset over what was proved to be a meritless arrest, and my emotions simply got the best of me. None of us are above the law, and I realize that my actions that night were not in keeping with this belief. I apologize to the residents of my district and have learned a great deal from this experience.”
Badon has previously issued statements, including one soon after his arrest where he admitted to exercising poor judgment by driving his vehicle after consuming alcohol. He said then that he would not seek nor expect any favorable treatment as a result of his arrest.
Trooper Stephen Hammons, spokesman for State Police, said the department stands behind Lazard’s stop.
Hammons referred to the statute governing improper lane usage, which states that a vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from such lane until the driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made with safety.
In court, Sallinger argued that his client followed the law on how to make a left turn, which provides that a vehicle will enter the intersection to the right of the center line and leave the intersection to the right of the center line. The judge ruled that the manner in which Badon took the turn was “ultra-safe” because he stayed far clear of the center line.
About 15 minutes into the stop, Badon mentions State Police Sgt. David Anderson’s name and repeats his relationship with Stout, calling him “my chief.”
“Listen, I am a prominent citizen over here with my mayor and everything,” Badon says. “I’m just asking for a little leniency. Yes sir. That’s all I’m asking for. I don’t want any trouble.”
Badon repeatedly declines to submit to a field sobriety test until Lazard informs him he’s under arrest. Badon then agrees to take the test, although he continues to ask Lazard for a break.
The trooper handcuffed Badon shortly after midnight based on the results of the field sobriety test. Badon was brought to the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center for booking, but a deputy turned him away because of capacity issues. Lazard then brought Badon to his home and released him on signature on counts of improper lane usage and first-offense DWI, the report says.
On Monday, Sallinger said he believed State Police violated the law by releasing the material to The Advocate after it had been suppressed and not entered as evidence in the court.
He says by releasing the material, “the State Police would have jeopardized the prosecution’s attempts to have fair treatment on appeal or retrial by tainting the outcome ? We have rules of law. Apparently State Police do not believe the rules are for it to abide by.”