Mother booked with negligent homicide in death of son, 4, whose body was found in hole near his home _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- BRPD Corporals Jeff Anders, left, and Derrick Evans, behind, escort Brittni Clark, 25, of 5676 Robertson Ave., to Parish Prison. Baton Rouge police booked Clark, a Baton Rouge mother, with negligent homicide in the death of her 4-year-old son Jassiah Clark who disappeared Dec. 20 and was found dead in an uncovered hole three days before Christmas.

A state judge refused Monday to dismiss the city-parish from a lawsuit by the mother of a 4-year-old Baton Rouge boy who drowned in an abandoned sewer hole near his Robertson Avenue home in 2014.

The city-parish contends it isn’t liable in the death of Jassiah Clark because it didn’t perform any of the work associated with demolishing the pumping station or filling the abandoned sewer hole.

The city-parish also claims it had no knowledge of any alleged defects or deficiencies at the pumping station.

District Judge Mike Caldwell, after hearing brief arguments from city-parish attorney Peter Bourgeois and others, decided to keep the city-parish in the suit for the time being.

Caldwell noted that the hole in which the boy drowned was 20 feet deep.

Other defendants are Grady Crawford Construction, of Baton Rouge, and CH2M Hill Inc., of Englewood, Colorado.

Grady Crawford was the independent contractor hired by the city-parish to demolish the pumping station. The city-parish contracted with CH2M Hill to be the project manager over the upgrading of the city’s pumping stations.

Jassiah was reported missing the night of Dec. 20, 2014, and his body was recovered two days later following a massive search involving about 100 officers from several agencies, including the FBI.

An attorney for the boy’s mother, Brittni Clark, has said the hole was first reported by city-parish inspectors in October 2014 and again by project inspectors two weeks before the fatal accident.

A contractor filled the opening with “flowable fill and sand” two months before the boy’s death, a city-parish official has said, but a “migration of soils” occurred sometime between September 2014 and the time of the tragic accident.

Clark was initially booked on a count of negligent homicide after police accused her of leaving her son outside without adult supervision for about three years, but East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors declined to prosecute her.

District Attorney Hillar Moore III has said his office found no causual connection between her conduct and the boy’s untimely death.

Lewis Unglesby, one of Clark’s attorneys, and Moore both have said the hole resembled a typical mud puddle. There were no signs, barricades or fencing around it at the time of the accident.

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