An Alabama man arrested on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras 2012 filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday claiming NOPD officers unjustifiably beat him unconscious while he was handcuffed to a bench in the 8th District Station in the French Quarter.
Dylan Driggers’ suit further alleges that police orchestrated a cover-up of the incident and possibly destroyed an incriminating surveillance video.
Driggers, who was 19 at the time of the February 19, 2012 incident, told WVUE-TV that he was pushed into a state trooper on Bourbon Street. He was detained on a charge of public intoxication, according to a June 212 WVUE report.
After Driggers was taken to the New Orleans Police Department’s 8th District station, police handcuffed him to a bench while they finished paperwork, according to the lawsuit. At some point, Lt. Michael Field, a “Sgt. Dupree” and other NOPD officers approached Driggers and started to “harass him for no reason,” the lawsuit states.
While they were allegedly harassing him, Driggers spat out some chewing tobacco that had been in his mouth since he was arrested, according to the lawsuit. Police said in an arrest report and affidavit that Driggers spat at and kicked Field and Dupree.
After Driggers spat, Field and Dupree and other unidentified officer started to strike and beat him “about the head and shoulders,” the lawsuit states, even though he was “still handcuffed during this unjustified attack” and thus, not posing a threat to the officers.
Driggers was knocked unconscious during the beating, according to the lawsuit. Other NOPD cops witnessed the attack and did not intervene, the suit alleges. Showing off his knuckles, Fields later bragged about having beaten Driggers, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit claims that Jeff Walls, an 8th District Commander and “Detective Castro” conspired to cover up the alleged beating. It says Walls or another named defendant destroyed or attempted to destroy surveillance footage that showed the incident. The lawsuit accuses Castro of writing a “false and misleading” police report omitting any mention of the alleged beating or “other important events.”
According to the June 2012 WVUE story, police said Driggers refused treatment after EMS personnel were called to the station to treat his injuries. That refusal is not mentioned in Driggers’ lawsuit.
Orleans Parish Prison officials initially refused to admit Driggers because of his injuries. He was taken to a hospital, where doctors found evidence of a concussion, though he was later taken back to jail, the lawsuit states. Once back in Alabama, he was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome, requiring further medical treatment.
According to a WVUE-TV night report, the police department’s Public Integrity Bureau has completed its investigation of the case and submitted a report to the district attorney’s office, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported, which is still reviewing the case against Field and the other NOPD officers. Driggers is still facing charges of public intoxication and simple battery on a police officer in Municipal Court.
We’re not sure how the surveillance video mysteriously disappeared, but surveillance video or not, it is never okay for law enforcement to beat a handcuffed teenager (or anyone) unconscious.
Feel free to comment on this blog post. You can contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).