Casco Atdner had just left the Capital One bank in Harvey and was flush with nearly $8,000 in cash when, according to authorities, he ran a red light and was pulled over.
According to a federal court lawsuit, that seemingly routine October 2017 traffic stop led to an attempt by two Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies to steal some of Atdner’s money.
When Atdner refused to give up the cash, the lawsuit claims, the deputies beat him, threatened to call immigration officials on the Spanish-speaking man and then paraded him in front of his daughter’s school in handcuffs.
Atdner’s lawsuit is one of several recent lawsuits against members of the JPSO, several involving the same former deputy, George Kister IV.
Even before he was targeted this week by an excessive-force lawsuit, a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office narcotics detective had lost his job …
Kister was fired Dec. 29, 2017, after he failed a polygraph test given to him during an internal investigation into the traffic stop cited in Atdner’s suit. However, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office said last week that there was “insufficient evidence” to support a criminal charge against Kister over the incident.
Kister and the JPSO also are listed as defendants in a suit filed last year by a man who survived being shot by deputies during an April 2017 drug sting in which the Sheriff’s Office says the plaintiff drove a car toward officers.
In addition, both Kister and the agency are defendants in an unresolved suit centering around Jerman Neveaux’s claim that several deputies brutally beat him during his arrest after the fatal shooting of another deputy, David Michel, in June 2016.
Yet another suit that was filed recently against the Sheriff’s Office involves the death of a man who was fatally choked in a struggle with narcotics deputies in Shrewsbury during a drug sting last May. Kister was not involved in that arrest.
Nearly a year after Keeven Robinson was fatally choked during a struggle with Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office narcotics investigators in the…
In a court filing, the Sheriff’s Office has denied the allegations in Atdner’s lawsuit. In a statement Friday, the attorney representing the agency, Danny Martiny, said, "We are confident in our position in this case." Martiny also is the majority leader in the state Senate.
Kister, reached by phone, declined to comment for this article.
Atdner’s case dates back to the afternoon of Oct. 10, 2017, when he went to cash a $5,940 check at Capital One and was pulled over afterward at Manhattan and Lapalco boulevards. The deputies said that Atdner, a Gretna resident, had run a red light and was given a ticket.
But Atdner and his attorneys claim in their 12-page lawsuit that there was much more to the story.
Kister and his colleague Julio Alvarado — who speaks Spanish and was apparently serving as a translator during the stop — “confiscated” the $5,940 from the check that Atdner had cashed after receiving a workers’ compensation injury settlement, as well as an additional $2,000 he had earned from his job as a painter, the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit accuses Kister and Alvarado later of approaching Atdner and asking that he sign a Sheriff’s Office form indicating that his property had been “fully returned to him.”
Atdner said he refused to sign the form “because it reflected an amount several thousand dollars less” than what had been confiscated.
According to the lawsuit, Alvarado then wrapped his arms around Atdner’s throat and Kister “struck” him while they repeatedly demanded that he sign the form.
Kister and Alvarado eventually followed through on threats to call federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on Atdner when he stood firm on his refusal to endorse the document, the lawsuit says.
It claims that n was then brought in handcuffs to his daughter’s school when he said he had to pick her up. At the school, the suit says, Atdner was told he would go to jail while the girl was told she would be put in the custody of the state Department of Children and Family Services.
Atdner ended up in the Covington jail and was then transferred to a lockup in Lafayette, where he spent three weeks before he could bail out with the help of attorneys, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit says he sought medical attention for the beating that he suffered at the hands of Kister and Alvarado.
Atdner demands damages from Kister, Alvarado, Sheriff Joe Lopinto and insurance companies as well as other unidentified defendants.
Martiny has issued denials on behalf of the defendants and requested that the suit be dismissed. U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance hasn’t ruled on that request, but the case is set for trial in April 2020.
Atdner’s attorneys, Casey Cowley and Kenneth Bordes, declined to comment beyond the contents of the suit.
While Alvarado remained employed by the Sheriff’s Office at the time the lawsuit was filed, the agency had already fired Kister. It said that as part of an internal probe, he took a lie-detector test that showed he had violated agency rules mandating adherence to the law and prohibiting untruthfulness.
Kister’s dismissal prompted Jefferson Parish prosecutors to disclose the firing in at least one case in which he was scheduled to be a state witness. Rather than face trial, the defendant, Jarrell Arline, pleaded guilty to heroin distribution charges in exchange for a 15-year sentence.