Shane Gates, who claims in a federal lawsuit that he was beaten and badly injured by St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies nine years ago, will have to face outstanding misdemeanor charges stemming from that 2006 arrest.
A lawyer who successfully defended Gates against a felony charge in the same incident has said the 22nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office under former District Attorney Walter Reed pursued charges against Gates to delay his civil rights case.
However, new District Attorney Warren Montgomery said in a news release Friday that there is enough evidence to prosecute Gates on misdemeanor counts of DWI and resisting arrest.
Gates was acquitted by a St. Tammany Parish jury in 2012 on the felony charge of aggravated flight from an officer.
“Mr. Gates received a fair trial previously on the felony charge and was found not guilty,” Montgomery said. “I urge him to present himself to the court so that the judicial process can resolve the outstanding misdemeanor charges and end this dispute.’’
If Gates turns himself in by the end of July, Montgomery said, his office won’t seek pretrial detention.
Attorney Martin Regan, who represented Gates in the felony trial, said he met with Montgomery and asked him to drop the misdemeanor charges, although he is not Gates’ counsel of record in those cases.
“My hope was that he would not need an attorney,’’ Regan said. But he said his request that the new DA drop the charges “fell on deaf ears.’’
Gates filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Office in 2007, but that litigation is on hold pending action in state court on the criminal charges against him. Regan said Reed filed the charges against Gates to hinder the civil lawsuit.
In the suit, which names St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain and Reed as defendants, Gates says he was pepper-sprayed, handcuffed and beaten to the point of unconsciousness after deputies stopped him on Interstate 12 outside Lacombe on Nov. 16, 2006.
He suffered lacerations to the eye that required 38 stitches, has had three corrective surgeries and has permanent nerve damage, the suit contends.
Sheriff’s Office reports about the incident say a traffic stop turned into a high-speed chase and that a drunken Gates stumbled out of his car and was combative. But in an interview with WWL-TV last year, Gates denied drinking and said he had just bought the car he was driving from a Slidell dealership 20 minutes earlier. He said the attack by deputies came without warning.
Gates failed to appear in court more than 18 months ago on the misdemeanor charges, and a judge issued a warrant for his arrest.
Follow Sara Pagones on Twitter, @spagonesadvocat.