ACA.dguidry.043019

Handcuffs photographed Tuesday, December 26, 2017.

A 75-year-old Baton Rouge man who kicked a suspected Mall of Louisiana shoplifter last year while she was restrained by security personnel was put on probation Thursday, fined $100 and ordered to take an effective decision-making class. The victim was fined the same amount and ordered into a theft-deterrence course.

Frank Lamb, who was charged with simple battery — a misdemeanor — following the Feb. 14, 2019, incident that was captured on video, pleaded no contest Thursday to an amended charge of disturbing the peace by fighting.

frank lamb.jpg

Frank Lamb

State District Judge Tarvald Smith explained to Lamb that a no contest plea carries the same weight in criminal court as a guilty plea but cannot be used against a defendant in a civil proceeding.

Latonya G. Hamilton, the Baton Rouge woman kicked by Lamb, filed a lawsuit this year against him, the Mall of Louisiana and Macy's. That petition, which seeks damages, is pending.

Hamilton, 51, also pleaded no contest Thursday to disturbing the peace by fighting and was placed on probation, fined $100 and ordered to complete an anti-theft deterrence class and an effective decision-making class.

East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors dismissed charges of theft, simple criminal damage to property and resisting an officer that had been filed against her. A simple battery charge against her was amended to the charge to which she pleaded no contest.

"I think it was a fair offer by the state," Hamilton's attorney, Jim Holt, said outside the courtroom.

Smith put both Lamb and Hamilton on probation for a year.

latonya hamilton.jpg

latonya hamilton

Prosecutor Kendall Thomas told the judge that Lamb was accused of kicking Hamilton in the facial area, but Lamb's attorney, John McLindon, argued that Lamb's foot hit her hand.

"There's a video of it," Hamilton blurted out from the front row of the courtroom where she was seated during Lamb's no contest plea.

Hamilton apologized after Smith warned her about further outbursts.

The judge told Lamb, a Navy veteran, that there is a proper time and place for the public's intervention.

"Sometimes you should mind your business," he said to Lamb. "You could have ended up hurt or killed. Let law enforcement do their job. It's a new day out there. It's dangerous."

McLindon said after court that Lamb acknowledges he should have "let the guards do their job and stayed out of it."

"Mr. Lamb was attempting to help some security guards who were having trouble holding down an alleged shoplifter who was fighting the guards. Mr. Lamb now realizes he could have been seriously injured in his attempt to help," McLindon said.

The viral video that shows Lamb kicking Hamilton in the mall parking lot was taken by a passerby. Lamb later told deputies he was "only trying to help" and said he used his foot to try to move Hamilton's hands away, an arrest report says. Lamb said he had consumed four whiskey-based drinks before the incident.

Hamilton told sheriff's deputies the man screamed obscenities at her before kicking her. Deputies wrote in Lamb's arrest report that Hamilton had a swollen and black left eye.

The incident began when a Macy's asset protection employee reported seeing Hamilton walk into the store's dressing rooms with a large black purse and a handful of clothing items that she did not appear to have when walking back out, the arrest report says.

The employee found no clothes inside the dressing room when she checked, so she followed Hamilton and assumed she had them in her purse to steal them, according to the report.

The employee saw Hamilton leave the store with the bag full of items and approached her outside the store, identifying herself as an employee. A struggle over the purse ensued before both women fell to the ground, the report says. Hamilton ripped a necklace from the woman's neck and broke her earbuds.

Mall security responded to help detain Hamilton until the Sheriff's Office arrived. But as they restrained her, Lamb allegedly kicked Hamilton in the face, the report states.

The witness who recorded the incident on his cellphone told deputies he saw Lamb scream at Hamilton and kick her. Another witness said Lamb screamed and pointed fingers at Hamilton and kicked her in the face twice, the report states.


Email Joe Gyan Jr. at jgyan@theadvocate.com.