Vance Matranga

Vance Matranga Jr.

A West Baton Rouge deputy who fatally shot a Port Allen man during a narcotics raid this summer was dropped from an unrelated excessive force lawsuit after a federal judge ruled Wednesday that the man suing him is ineligible to seek damages because he had pleaded guilty to resisting arrest.

Deputy Vance Matranga Jr., a nine-year veteran with the sheriff's office, was accused of breaking the fleeing suspect's leg in 2016 after hitting him with a sheriff's vehicle and then tackling him.

The lawsuit alleged that authorities and medical responders didn't treat the man, Fredrick Johnson of Port Allen, for several hours after booking him into the parish jail, violating his civil rights.

A Port Allen police officer had tried to stun Johnson with a Taser outside a convenience store. It's not clear on video provided by Johnson's attorney whether Matranga's vehicle hit Johnson at the convenience or later on. The video shows Johnson running across LA 1 and being chased on foot by Matranga, who then tackles Johnson. The footage also shows Johnson lying on the ground in handcuffs apparently complaining about his ankle hurting.


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Johnson pleaded guilty to resisting a police officer after his arrest and was sentenced to five days in jail.

His guilty plea made him ineligible to sue the deputy for damages, according to the ruling from U.S. District Judge Shelly D. Dick. But the judge gave room for his lawyer to refile the civil complaint within 30 days.

"While obviously disappointed, we respect the court’s decision," said Johnson's attorney, Oliver Hadley.

He said he plans to amend the lawsuit against the sheriff's office nurse and a Port Allen police officer. Hadley said Johnson was in the parish jail for more than 12 hours with an untreated broken leg.

A state lawsuit against Acadian Ambulance alleging negligence in the matter is also pending. 

The complaint against Matranga was entirely dismissed.

Matranga, meanwhile, is named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Josef Richardson, whom the deputy shot in the back of the neck during a narcotics raid at a motel in July.

Louisiana State Police are investigating the shooting but few details have come forward about it nearly two months later.

The agency hasn't set a timetable for when the probe will be complete but plans to send its findings to the District Attorney's office in West Baton Rouge.

Email Youssef Rddad at yrddad@theadvocate.com.