Clindell Robertson

Clindell "Clyde" Robertson.

The family of a man fatally struck by a West Baton Rouge deputy who was driving on-duty with a suspended driver's license argues officials didn't properly screen the deputy, according to a lawsuit they filed alleging negligence.

The lawsuit filed in state District Court by the family of Clyde Robertson, 37, alleges the Sheriff’s Office failed to spot that then-deputy Alberto Casco, 20, had a warrant for his arrest and an invalid license when he hit and killed Robertson as he was walking along LA 1 the morning of April 5.

State troopers wrote in the crash report that Casco didn't have a valid driver's license. They estimated he had been driving more than 50 mph when he hit Robertson while driving a van used to transport inmates.

Casco, who was hired as a deputy in February, had an unresolved speeding ticket in East Baton Rouge Parish, resulting in a suspension of his license and a warrant for his arrest in March, records show.

The lawsuit, which was filed last week, seeks monetary damages for Robertson’s death and points to inadequate screening and training procedures for law officers. Casco, as well as West Baton Rouge Rouge Sheriff Mike Cazes, are named in the lawsuit.

“It appears to us that this matter has been swept under the rug,” said Jim Holt, a lawyer representing Robertson’s family. “They should have had procedures in place to detect this, and they failed.”

A sheriff’s office spokesman said the department is reviewing the lawsuit but declined to comment on the pending case.

The department fired Casco a few days after the crash for not disclosing his legal troubles, and officials said at the time they didn’t know his license was invalid. Because warrants for failure to appear are so numerous, observers say, they are rarely entered into criminal background check databases.

Casco was cited days after the crash for driving without a valid license, a case that is pending in West Baton Rouge traffic court.

A grand jury declined to indict Casco for vehicular homicide on Aug. 15, according to the District Attorney’s Office. Neither those hearings nor the grand jury's deliberations are public.

Records show Casco's warrant was recalled the same day of the crash, indicating he contacted the court and asked to appear at a rescheduled hearing. Holt questioned how the deputy was able to resolve the warrant on a Friday when traffic court isn't in session, and people are required to appear in person.

State Police investigators didn't fault Casco for the fatal wreck, saying Robertson was wearing dark clothing and pedestrians are required to stay on highway shoulders facing oncoming traffic.

Still, members of Robertson's family have continued to press for answers over how Casco was allowed to drive for several weeks before he was dismissed. They also wonder how he was able to avoid criminal charges and an immediate arrest after Robertson was struck and killed.

"I don't understand how a man can drive a vehicle with no valid license, and with a bench warrant, hit a man and kill him and get to walk away freely without being arrested," said Samira Rucker, the mother of Robertson's children.

Robertson was a father of twin boys who are now 4 years old, and Rucker said they ask about their father nearly every day.

His mother, LaVern George Robertson, recalled always stressing the importance that her son keep a valid license. At one point, she even prevented him from driving a truck when his license was briefly invalid.

“For him to get killed like this,” George Robertson said with a pause. "It’s mind-boggling."

Email Youssef Rddad at yrddad@theadvocate.com.