Lawsuits and bad publicity persist for Youngsville Police

   

Disclaimer: Citizens for a New Louisiana backs the blue; supporting the funding and equipping of law enforcement officers at all levels. The information contained in this article comes to you thanks to the good police officers out there. They know that lawsuits and bad publicity will continue only as long as bad actors are protected from public scrutiny and face no consequences for their terrible acts.

At the regular meeting for the City of Youngsville for October 2023, the public meeting moved into an executive session to address litigation against the Youngsville Police Department. The motion was brought by Councilman Matt Romero (R 7/10) and seconded by Councilman Lindy Bolgiano (R 7/10). After approximately fifty minutes the Council remerged to wrap up the remaining items on the agenda. What was discussed in the executive session? You can bet it had to do with navigating another minefield brought on by the practices of former Police Chief Ricky Boudreaux. Perhaps had the Mayor taken action to investigate Chief Boudreaux, as directed by the Council back in March of 2023, this matter could have concluded without the need for taxpayers to fund more costly litigation. I guess now we will never know.

Anything but a game of Cat and Mouse

One of the topics of the executive session pertained to an incident that unfolded on August 16, 2022. It was certainly not a game. It involved the actions of multiple cats toying with a vulnerable mouse. The mouse behaved as would be expected. It tried not to show fear but ultimately knew it was done. When attacked it resisted, but was ultimately beat into submission (literally) and captured.

According to the Complaint for Damages filed in Federal Court, Leon Sam, a native of Texas, played the part of the mouse. For his role in the drama, Sam didn’t win a Golden Globe or an Academy Award. Instead, he received vision loss, hearing loss, and a concussion. He was beaten, then arrested; brought to jail and then the hospital; released from custody; had his truck towed; and faced criminal charges. He was also likely intoxicated for the entire ordeal and there was some trash-talking about “momma.” Had a “train” been mentioned, this would have made for the perfect country and Western song.

In all seriousness what happened to Sam shouldn’t have happened. Police encounter individuals suspected of being intoxicated or involved in motor vehicle accidents all the time. They have hurtful words hurled at them, but they rarely end in a person receiving great bodily harm and permanent injury. But it did for Sam.

The instigator

Video evidence makes it clear that the entire incident was likely fueled and escalated by officers on the scene. The three firefighters who arrived ahead of the police didn’t report being met with any hostility or aggressive behavior. Video footage captures them calmly standing around as police arrive on the scene. It wasn’t until the subject came in contact with Lafayette Parish Sheriff Deputy Brennan Miller that things got out of control.

Some officers just have a reputation of being instigators. Co-workers select or refuse off-duty security assignments based on whether or not they will be working alongside such a person. They drive slower when a distress call is made by the officer than they would for other officers. They hope it will allow just enough time for the officer to get a long-awaited attitude adjustment. The sad thing is that Miller probably wouldn’t have any clue that he is such a person until he reads it here. But had his agency, his supervisors, his trainers, or anyone tasked with maintaining professional integrity addressed the underlying issue with Miller this may have all turned out differently.

Officer discipline is a public record

However, we don’t even know whether this incident was addressed. That’s because Miller works for the Lafayette Parish Sheriff. The Civil Service System disciplines through public hearings (an open and transparent window into police misconduct). However, the Lafayette Sheriff refuses to disclose such matters to the public. In fact, the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office has consistently obstructed requests for public records involving deputy misconduct. Specifically, the office has refused to produce any records to indicate if Miller was ever administratively investigated for his role in the Sam incident.

Miller is just another Sheriff’s Deputy, like Greg Logan (Lafayette City-Parish Attorney), Kenneth Boudreaux (soon to be sworn in as a Lafayette City Councilman), and Erick Knezek (candidate for BESE District 7) who may or may not have records of disciplinary action maintained by the Sheriff. We just don’t know because basic requests for internal affairs logs and other records are redacted to the point of being meaningless or outright withheld.

The real aggressor

Instead of ignoring Sam’s comments or trying to de-escalate, Miller may have instigated the incident by yelling at Sam “You’re gonna f****ng get something!” And while Miller was the first to use physical force upon Sam, he didn’t cause the injuries suffered by Sam. That person would have been Sergeant Eric Segura with the Youngsville Police Department.

If the name didn’t give it away, Segura hails from New Iberia. That’s where he started out in law enforcement. Through the years Segura worked for the New Iberia Police Department, Abbeville Police Department, and even the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office. He even testified at the federal criminal trial of former Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal.

During his testimony, Segura recalled acting on orders to use force upon a black prisoner solely because Ackal ordered him to “take that f*****g n*****, put him on the ground, and put him in handcuffs.” Segura also testified that on another occasion Ackal approached him, grabbed him by the back of the head, leaned in towards him, and told him, “If you see that f*****g n*****, he doesn’t come out of the woods alive.” With a record of blind obedience to commands, Segura was likely seen by former Chief Boudreaux as a perfect recruit to come work in the City of Youngsville.

Back to Youngsville

After Deputy Miller begins to provoke Sam, and just moments before Miller is seen pushing Sam to the ground, police body camera footage captures Segura uttering something to the effect of ‘we’re about to whip his a**!’ As Sam begins to sit up, but is still on the ground, Miller then orders Sam to “turn around and put his hands behind his back.” Sam is then rushed and tackled to the ground without a reasonable opportunity to comply. Segura and Ortis follow Miller’s lead and a struggle ensues. It’s during this very brief time that Segura strikes Sam approximately seventeen times in the face.

Segura later denied striking Sam in the face at all. Segura told both the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office criminal investigator and Youngsville Police Department internal affairs investigator that he struck Sam in the brachial plexus. That’s a network of nerves originating from the spinal cord, near the neck, and extending into the armpit. However, body camera footage captured Segura that same evening bragging about striking Sam in the “head,” not the brachial plexus as he would later claim. Segura also tried to underplay the number of times he struck Sam, claiming it was only four or five times. Additionally, Segura used the excuse of low lighting as the reason his strikes may not have been properly landed. All the while, he continued to deny any knowledge of striking Sam in the face.

The Cover-Up

Segura’s activities would lead a reasonable person to believe he was intentionally trying to conceal or minimize his role. He quickly tried to shift blame for the encounter to Miller, a statement that was again captured on body camera footage. Segura also disobeyed police policy by failing to timely submit a use-of-force report. In it, he would have to disclose that he had, in fact, used force upon a subject. Additionally, Segura did not complete any written report of the incident for a period of almost three weeks. The report was only done after being ordered to do so by his immediate supervisor.

Sam was brought to the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center for booking. In his arrest affidavit, Deputy Miller alleges that Sam “attempted to stand up and grab Deputy Miller, as well as Youngsville PD Officers in an aggressive manner.” Miller’s initial report only states that an “intoxicated subject resisted arrest.” Miller also never mentions the use of any force upon Sam being necessary to take him into custody. That fact is omitted from his arrest affidavit, initial report, and his offense report.

Attempt to conceal injuries

Sam’s facial injuries were covered by a mask that was placed over his head by police officers at the scene. The excuse was that Sam allegedly attempted to spit on them. The nurse at the jail began screening Sam for any health issues that would require immediate medical attention. When she removed the mask and observed significant injuries to his face she refused to clear Sam for incarceration until he was evaluated and treated at a local hospital.

The three Youngsville firefighters on the scene, Richard Bresnahan, Jordan Guillot, and Zachary Daigle, each provided written statements on what they observed. Still, only one ever mentioned Segura striking the subject. When called in for a criminal interview by the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office, each of them was accused by the investigator of not being honest and withholding information. They all eventually confirmed that they had witnessed Segura striking Sam.

No Prosecution

Sam was arrested for disturbing the peace, resisting arrest, and public intimidation. We are unable to locate any record of the 15th Judicial District Attorney ever moving forward with the prosecution of Sam on those charges. Likewise, we have not been able to locate any records of a prosecution commencing against Brennan Miller or Eric Segura. Perhaps this is like all the other sordid affairs in the City of Youngsville. If leaders don’t address them or talk about them, maybe they will all just go away. That sort of mindset may be encouraged by one-to-many cocktails in Costa Rica!

Unfortunately, the Sam incident is just one of two recent suits discussed in executive session by the City of Youngsville. We will have to cover the other suit another time. But please don’t take our word for what occurred that evening. You can review the documents and watch the police videos and criminal interviews here for yourself.

Videos and Documents:

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