James Atkins II 

GONZALES — Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley fired Deputy James Atkins II on Tuesday just hours before Gonzales Police arrested him over a domestic incident with his former girlfriend from nearly a week earlier.

Officers arrested Atkins, 34, 910 Janice Ave., Gonzales, on one count of simple battery alleged to have happened at his home Feb. 8, city police said.

The termination and arrest are a major turnabout for Atkins, who had been with the Sheriff's Office more than seven years, was shot in the hand during a traffic stop in early 2015 and had only recently returned to full-time status after several surgeries.

Wiley said the domestic dispute prompted a standard internal investigation and led deputies to uncover other activities that were not crimes but showed Atkins "was not on task while on duty for extended periods of time." 

"Some of the information we found, related to, but not directly, to the battery at the house, concerned us enough that we terminated him," Wiley said Thursday.  

Wiley offered no additional specifics.

Atkins' arrest also came after Gonzales officers arrested the former girlfriend first, on the day of the Feb. 8 dispute, and had let Atkins remain free for several days.

Capricia Powe, 35, of Donaldsonville, was booked on counts of disturbing the peace and simple criminal damage to property and was released from Ascension Parish Prison a little more than two hours later on her own recognizance.

When asked why Atkins was not also arrested on Feb. 8, as can happen in domestic cases to offer a cooling down period, Gonzales Police Detective Sgt. Steven Nethken said what officers ended up uncovering in the incident is not how it was initially reported to them.

In addition, Atkins and Powe do not live together and Powe had left Atkins' home, lessening the need for a cooling off period, Nethken said. 

Atkins had called city officers to his home on Feb. 8, accusing Powe of swinging a dumbbell at his car several times and damaging his vehicle, Nethken said.

At the time, Nethken added, Powe already had left Atkins' home and officers were not able to get her story but they saw the damage to Atkins' car and arrested her. 

The next day, Powe went to city police to try to bring charges against Atkins, Nethken said, but officers at that point had to investigate the allegations Powe had made against Atkins. 

By Monday, Powe told reporters standing outside the Parish Courthouse in Gonzales on a separate legal matter that she was having a hard time finding a local agency to bring charges against Atkins, who had bruised her arm.

Three young children were with her at the time, she said, showing reporters her bruised left arm.

Contacted about Powe's claims, Nethken said officers were continuing to investigate the Feb. 8 incident and hoped to make an arrest of Atkins, which happened Tuesday afternoon. 

Atkins was released from Ascension Parish Prison on his own recognizance about an hour after being booked Tuesday evening. 

Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.