A former officer with the Monroe Police Department in Monroe Louisiana, has now pled guilty in federal court to a felony charge of deprivation of rights under color of law, in a case handled by the U.S. DOJ Civil Rights Division. The excessive force incident happened on April 21, 2020 and involved former officer Jared Desadier. I obtained the body cam footage, which shows Officer Desadier kicking an arrestee on the ground unnecessarily.
According to the DOJ’s statement, the incident occurred shortly after midnight, when MPD officers overheard an alarm system activate, and Desadier and other officers detained a man for questioning. When officers discovered drug paraphernalia on the man, the man ran from the scene and officers gave chase. Approximately a block away, a patrolling MPD officer caught up to the man and ordered him to the ground. The man complied, by lying flat on his stomach and putting his hands behind his back. As that officer approached and prepared to handcuff the man, Desadier ran up to the scene and kicked the man in the face as he lay face-down on the ground with both hands behind his back.
Desadier admitted in court that his assault on the victim was without justification, as the man did not present a threat to any officer or other person on the scene. Desadier also admitted that he knew, at the time, that his actions were unjustified and unreasonable under the circumstances.
Desadier faces a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. His sentencing has been set for November 21, 2022.
The Fourth Amendment bars police officers from using excessive force to effectuate a seizure. Courts evaluate claims of excessive force based on an objective reasonableness standard. Utilizing what’s known as the “Graham Factors,” the Courts look at three things: the severity of the alleged crime at issue, whether the suspect poses an immediate safety risk to any individual, and whether the suspect is actively attempting to resist or evade arrest. See Graham v. Connor (SCOTUS 1989).
The Courts also look to the proportionality of the force in light of all the circumstances. Force must generally be reasonable.
Here, the case is an easy one. The suspect’s alleged crime is mostly unknown, and thus minor. An alarm was triggered. Thus we know that an alarm was triggered. We don’t know whether any crime was committed by any individual. Once the suspect was detained for questioning, drug paraphernalia was discovered, resulting in the man running away. Still minor. Possession of drug paraphernalia, perhaps some sort of foot pursuit crime.
Secondly, the man appears to pose no immediate safety risk to any individual. The body cam footage shows that he is secured into custody prior to the use of force. He doesn’t appear to pose any specific threat or safety danger. Which brings us to the third and final Graham Factor.
Lastly, he doesn’t appear to be resisting or making any further attempts to run away. Thus the kick to the head by the pursuing officer appears to be solely malicious and retaliatory. There was no need for it. Other than the illegal need for the officer to punish or hurt the man unnecessarily.
A note about injuries. I’m unsure as to whether this man was injured in any substantial way, or whether he just suffered pain. However, there’s no threshold injury which must occur to create an excessive force violation. It is however relevant to damages, as well as for evidence of the level of force used by the officer.