A 30-year-old St. John the Baptist Parish resident has accused Sheriff Mike Tregre’s deputies of falsely arresting him and using excessive force during an incident last year that left him with nerve damage in his hand, according to a federal civil rights lawsuit filed Friday in New Orleans.
The lawsuit names Tregre as well as a half-dozen of his deputies.
It alleges that deputies checked on Brian Everett on Nov. 16 after he reportedly threatened to harm himself.
Everett suffers from a host of medical problems, including cerebral palsy, seizures, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, according to the lawsuit.
Two deputies conducting the check, Graylin Burl and Darlinta Cook, showed up and began swearing at an intoxicated Everett, the suit contends. The deputies harassed Everett before arresting him for disturbing the peace, it says.
Before Everett was arrested, the suit alleges, Burl picked him up over his head and body-slammed him onto the ground. While he was being arrested, Everett alleges, Burl stomped on his head and kept his foot on it until he was handcuffed. He was then thrown into the car while handcuffed, which left him with nerve damage in his hand, the suit says.
Everett alleges that he was taunted and harassed on his way to jail and that he was put into a restraint chair and shocked with an electronic control device.
The suit alleges that jail personnel did not administer medical care after he was shocked or after he suffered a series of seizures while in custody.
The suit says the incident left Everett with “nerve damage to his right hand, numbness in his wrists, seizures and painful sensations in his outer extremities, and he suffers from severe and debilitating depression and anxiety.”
The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages. The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman.
When reached by phone Friday, Tregre said he was “familiar” with Everett but had not seen the suit. He declined further comment and said he would let the lawsuit “take its course.”
Adding a wrinkle to the story, Everett is being represented by Tregg Wilson, a lawyer who was Tregre’s chief deputy until last year.
Wilson filed a federal whistle-blower lawsuit against Tregre last August, alleging that Tregre’s interrogation rooms were rigged with hidden cameras. Tregre, who took office in July 2012, said the equipment was installed by his predecessor and that he was unaware it was there until shortly before Wilson filed his suit.
Tregre has said the systems have been removed. The trial on Wilson’s lawsuit, which is being overseen by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, is set for September.
Wilson contended in his lawsuit that he was fired as retaliation for speaking out about the cameras.
A subsequent State Police investigation concluded the cameras did not necessarily violate state law, though investigators said they could well have been used improperly.
Asked whether he thought it was a coincidence that Everett is represented by Wilson, Tregre said, “I’m not surprised,” but he declined further comment.
Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.