Lafayette Violent Crime: What’s the Problem?

   
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New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport have already become nationally renowned for their violent crime rates. Will Lafayette be next? If we don’t get a grip on things we could very well be heading that way.

Despite aggressive approaches by local law enforcement administrators to replace traditional policing methods with “modern” mass surveillance of ordinary citizens and data collection / sharing apparatuses, these efforts have been abysmal failures when it comes to improving crime statistics. Some candidates recently seeking office in the criminal justice system have concluded ‘the same 10% continue to commit 90% of the crimes.’ Why is that? Let’s start by examining a few recent cases which may reveal where our criminal justice system is failing.

Brian K. Babineaux

According to information obtained from the Lafayette Police Department, there were twenty-five reported homicides in the city in 2021. That’s was a 47.06% increase when compared to the previous year. It’s only the second time in the last decade where that number exceeded twenty. The majority of those offenses were committed by individuals in their twenties or younger. The deadliest month, October of 2021, was when fifty-three-year-old Brian K. Babineaux was arrested for manslaughter and violation of a protective order in connection with the October 6, 2021 murder of Denise Williams.

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When he was just a teenager, Babineaux was arrested for first-degree murder in the 1986 death of Clifford Smith. The first-degree murder charge was ultimately dismissed in July of 1989, but just three months later Babineaux was charged for distribution of cocaine. This was just the start of a well-documented criminal career. According to records maintained by various public agencies, Babineaux has been arrested or charged with a crime on at least twenty-five occasions.

The system is always running behind

Babineaux has remained in custody at the LPCC since his arrest on October 7, 2021. While he’s been in “time out,” the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s office began catching up. Babineaux, a convicted felon, had been very busy wreaking havoc in the community in the months leading up to that October 2021 murder. This seemingly went unnoticed by the District Attorney’s Office. But then, between January and February of 2022 they filed several bills of information and secured an indictment against Babineaux, for crimes including:

After multiple warnings to law enforcement, in the form of a string of arrests (and subsequent releases), in February, May, and June, Babineaux’s continued freedom allowed him to murder someone to whom the courts had issued a protective order.

It’s not just Babineaux

John Nicholas was booked into the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center on August 9, 2023. His arrest record includes charges for First-Degree Murder, five counts of Attempted First Degree Murder, Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, False Imprisonment, Domestic Abuse, Battery, and Violation of a Protective Order. During his arrest, four people (including two police officers) were injured and a child was killed. There will always be those who will blame the police. However, reasonable people will examine a system which failed to take swift action and ensure Nicholas didn’t continue to pose a threat to the public. And, like Babineaux, there were plenty of warning signs.

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At the time of this incident Nicholas, like Babineaux, was already a convicted felon. That conviction stemmed from two separate incidents in 2013. On February 5, 2013 Nicholas was arrested and booked on charges of Illegal Carrying of a Firearm, Illegal Discharge of a Firearm, and Simple Criminal Damage to Property. He posted bond in May of 2013 and was back out on the streets. Then on October 12, 2013 Nicholas was charged with seven counts of attempted First Degree Murder. For his role in those two incidents Nicholas pled guilty in April of 2015 and was sentenced to seven years behind bars.

In December of 2016 Nicholas would petition the court to have his sentence reconsidered. That petition was denied by the court. Additionally, in March of 2017 Nicholas would petition the court to be placed under the supervision of the re-entry court. Again, the court would deny his petition. Nicholas completed his sentence and was released in May of 2019.

Rehabilitated?

It would be approximately three years before the “rehabilitated” Nicholas would catch the eye of the system again. That happened on July 7, 2022 when Nicholas was arrested for battery of a dating partner. Video surveillance footage captured Nicholas straddling the female victim and striking her in the face with his fist as she was on the ground. The victim was granted a protective order. Additionally, an order was issued commanding Nicholas to transfer any firearms in his possession to another person. Nicholas, who was already forbidden by state law from possessing a firearm, declared that he did not have any firearms. Nicholas would post bond on July 11, 2022 and was released from custody by the Lafayette Parish Sheriff.

On September 17, 2022 Nicholas was again involved in a domestic dispute. This time Nicholas allegedly brandished a firearm and shot himself in the chest. A warrant was obtained for the arrest of Nicholas. The charges were Violation of a Protective Order and Possession of a Firearm by a Felon. He was taken into custody on March 1, 2023. At that time a search warrant was also obtained for his dwelling, where an AR-15 rifle was recovered. Nicholas posted a $22,500 bail bond and was released from custody the same day. A public records request was made to the Lafayette Parish Sheriff for the booking records of Nicholas pertaining to this arrest. So far, the Sheriff has refused to release the records.

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Arrested again and again

On April 4, 2023 Nicholas was again arrested. This time for attempting to punch his girlfriend in the presence of police. According to the report, Nicholas was arrested for Simple Assault, Resisting Arrest, Self-Mutilation by Prisoner, and Threatening a Public Official. The report also indicates that Nicholas made multiple threats towards police. Those threats allegedly included him saying that the next time the police showed up that he would ‘Kill them all.’ Again, the Sheriff has refused to release the records pertaining to this arrest. Wouldn’t it be nice to know how and why Nicholas came to be released back into the community? 

On May 21, 2023, police again responded to a domestic dispute involving Nicholas. According to the report the victim had injuries to her face, arms, and legs. Nicholas likely could not be located as police sought a warrant for his arrest. Charges included Domestic Abuse Battery and Violation of a Protective Order.

Trend within the criminal justice system

All of these incidents which lead up to the deadly August 5, 2023, shoot out with Nicholas seem to have gone unnoticed by the District Attorney. Just days after the fatal incident the District Attorney’s Office finally filed charges against Nicholas on the nearly one year old offenses of Violation of a Protective Order and Possession of a Firearm by a Felon.

Unfortunately, the sequence of events surrounding both Babineaux and Nicholas are not isolated occurrences. They are symptoms of a broken criminal justice system. Several government entities are withholding critical information from the public on just how weak and fragile the system actually is. Did you know that the Lafayette Sheriff doesn’t even make available to the public a listing of active warrants anymore? Information that used to be available on his webpage is now, according to him, exempted under the public records law.

A climate of zero consequences

Just over a half a century ago “law and order” became a plank of politicians vying for office. These campaign promises were made in the 1960’s era rise in violent crime, which in some cases was up 200%. From that time until today, the liberal establishment through academia has advanced the preposterous theory that discrimination and racism is the root cause of criminal activity. They truly believe that with enough time and enough social programs they can eliminate criminal behavior. Bless their hearts!

What has been the result of pouring trillions of dollars into social welfare programs, obstructing the police from doing their jobs, and granting special rights and privileges to criminals? Is it any wonder that people have lost faith in the criminal justice system? The legacy media continues to offer youth an excuse for engaging in criminal conduct. Add to this, the deployment of “School Resource Officers” desensitize children to the presence of law enforcement officers. When they continue to exhibit behavior problems at school and face no consequences, they quickly learn that the police won’t do anything to them. Then on a much wider scale, the law enforcement system as a whole demonstrates the low probability of any meaningful consequences for criminal acts.

In a 1981 address to the International Chiefs of Police Association then President Ronald Reagan said: “It’s obvious that prosperity doesn’t decrease crime–just as it’s obvious that deprivation and want don’t necessarily increase crime. The truth is that today’s criminals, for the most part, are not desperate people seeking bread for their families. Crime is the way they’ve chosen to live.” Almost forty years later we continue to make excuses for the criminals. The broken system just doesn’t deal with their destructive and often deadly behaviors.

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