The St. Amant woman seen in a video being pulled from a ditch by her hair has sued the city-parish, Police Department and police Sgt. Robert Schilling in federal court Monday, alleging her civil rights were violated in the immediate aftermath of a Sept. 10 motorcycle accident.
Melinda Morris alleged in a civil suit filed by attorney Eulis Simien Jr. that Schilling shoved her into a ditch and then pulled her out by her hair.
Morris also alleged in her suit that she was “wrongfully arrested … and wrongfully charged with battery on a police officer and resisting arrest.”
The suit also stated: “Melinda Morris did not batter any police officer and did not resist arrest.”
She asked for an unspecified level of compensation.
Phone calls to Morris were not answered Monday.
Those calls did not roll over to an answering machine or voice-mail service.
A request for comment was left on an answering machine Monday at a telephone number listed for a Robert Schilling. No one responded to that request.
Police Chief Dwayne White announced last week an internal investigation into the incident after officers received a video recorded after the accident.
White said the video shows an officer using force that “certainly appears excessive and contrary to the methods employed by this department for officers effecting arrests.”
“The internal investigation is continuing,” Police Cpl. L’Jean McKneely said Monday. “We have no further comment while this matter is under investigation.”
Parish Attorney Mary Roper also would not discuss the case Monday.
“We are aware of the incident giving rise to the allegations within the suit, but cannot comment on the merits of the case due to pending litigation,” Roper said.
In her suit, Morris said she was driving a motor scooter, and her husband, Eric Morris, was driving a motorcycle north on Nicholson Drive near Lee Drive sometime before 9 p.m.
Morris said she and her husband collided with a vehicle that pulled into their path.
After the collision, Morris said in her suit, her husband lay unconscious on the pavement. She said she suffered injuries to her head, hands and arms. She said she became dizzy and vomited.
Morris said her son, who was not involved in the collision, attempted to go to his father, who “was still lying in the roadway.”
Schilling barred their son from going to his father, Morris said. When she attempted to intervene, she said, Schilling shoved her into the ditch, then pulled her out by the hair.
The civil suit is assigned to Chief U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson.