A disabled woman from Jefferson Parish, Louisiana is suing her local law enforcement agency, accusing a state congressman of violating her civil rights when he used excessive force against her in response to an altercation she was involved in. The partially blind plaintiff alleges the officer who threw her to the ground had a history of committing acts similar to those of civilians in policing.
According to a lawsuit received by Atlanta Black Star and filed Friday, September 16, in US District Court in New Orleans, Shantel Arnold, Black, is suing Jefferson Parish Deputy Sheriff Julio Alvarado, Sheriff Joseph P. Lopinto III and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office on the September 20, 2021 altercation that violated their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Arnold is represented in this case by State Senator Gary Carter, D-New Orleans, and Derek Rovaris, Jr.
The complaint says the incident in question was a direct result of Arnold, a small woman measuring 4ft 8 and weighing less than 100 pounds, being jumped on by a group of children.
According to ProPublica, she was attacked by three boys around 2 p.m. on the day of the incident in September 2021 as Arnold was walking down the street near her family’s home.
According to cellphone footage of the beating, the attack lasted several minutes. The boys threw Arnold to the ground and attacked them as a crowd gathered and laughed as they watched. Once she tried to defend herself with a stick, but to no avail. The boys continued to beat them and only stopped when Lionel Gray, their 71-year-old stepfather, chased the youths away.
Someone called 911 to report the fight, and Deputy Alvarado answered the call, which was made to Richard Avenue in front of the apartment complex. At that moment, he saw Arnold walking home, disheveled and ragged from the incident.
Despite being the victim, Alvarado focused on Arnold and “demanded” that she speak to him. When she replied that she only wanted to leave the scene of the fight, he attacked her, the lawsuit says.
A transcript of an interview surrounding the incident quoted the young woman as saying: “I’m on my way home. I can’t make it to the block, the police come out of nowhere, swarm out and tell me, ‘Come here.’ I’m like, ‘What’s up? I just got beat up by two kids, what are you gonna do?’”
“[Arnold] just wanted to go home,” the claim read. “At that point, Deputy Alvarado grabbed Shantel Arnold’s arm and twisted it behind her back. … [he] then grabbed [her] by her hair, picked her up off the ground and slammed her violently against the ground several times.”
It continued, “Alvarado then placed Arnold on her stomach and placed his knee and body weight on her back, cutting off her breathing and blood flow.”
Arnold was then left behind “with serious physical injuries.”
Arnold’s attorneys explained that in addition to being small, Arnold only has one eye, having lost her left eye in a car accident prior to the attack, so she posed no threat to the officer. According to the lawsuit, “She does not wear a prosthetic eye and it is apparent that she is blind in her left eye.” Nonetheless, he attacked her.
The attack was witnessed by two of the young woman’s family members, Gray and Tony Givens, who both tried to plead with the deputy to stop hurting them. Instead of stopping, he cursed her and threatened to beat her up and throw her in jail.
The lawsuit states that after Alvarado brutally beat the woman, realizing her injuries, Alvarado did not help her either, instead handcuffing the young woman.
Someone captured the incident and uploaded it to social media where it went viral and was picked up by multiple media outlets.
The only video was from bystanders, as the JPSO does not provide body cams or dash cams to its proxies.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump wrote about the incident, saying: “The Deputy Sheriff’s Office of Jefferson Parish was caught on video repeatedly punching Shantel Arnold to the ground by her hair! This is absolutely horrifying and UNAUTHORIZED! An investigation has been launched into the actions of this officer. He must be held accountable!”
The video shows him yanking, punching and kneeling on her. At one point, Alvarado grabs Arnold by her pigtails and he throws her whole body onto the cement.
Without the videos taken by witnesses, there would have been no proof anything ever happened to Arnold. Alvarado never wrote an account of the incident.
“Deputy Alvardo admitted he marked the call NAT (Necessary Actions Taken) and did not write a report on the incident. It wasn’t until the next day that Deputy Alvarado said he would change the signal to a medical list and write a report. Alvarado advised him to do this because he felt it was necessary [be] done and it had nothing to do with the video that surfaced,” the lawsuit reads.
The internal affairs report notes that the deputy “did not notify his senior officer of the incident” and “was instructed by Sergeant Canas, after speaking with Captain Guttuso, not to write a report after the fact, as an investigation had been opened.” “.
The report found that Alvarado violated the JPSO’s written policies and procedures “for failing to properly document the incident.”
Arnold and her legal team believe it goes a step further, claiming the MP and the JPSO “conspired to cover up his excessive violence against the woman.”
After the report was released, Nola.com reports, Alvarado was suspended without pay for a week and placed on probation for a year. He was not reprimanded for assaulting the woman, but for not writing the report.
The complaint found that “numerous federal grievances” were filed against the 17-year-old law enforcement officer by African Americans and other minorities, including a time when he “pulled his gun” on a 14-year-old and his friend. He grabbed the teenager by the neck and banged his head on the concrete.
In one of the statements, he said he sometimes had to engage in “proactive patrols” in “high crime areas.” He said he’s “banging on [his] own work” by responding to 911 calls and other complaints, according to the lawsuit.
Now Arnold hopes that the court will be able to put an end to his threat.
Arnold’s lawsuit also seeks to shed light on the JPSO’s “long history of the unreasonable, excessive, and unlawful use of force against African Americans and people of color.”
“This case is a classic example of the failure of Sheriff Lopinto and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and their willful indifference and utter disregard for the use of excessive and unlawful force against African Americans and minorities,” the complaint reads.
She is asking for a jury trial and for the court to declare that not only did the MP violate her civil rights, but that she should be entitled to compensation for her injuries, his violation of her civil rights, emotional distress, emotional hurt, fear, pain and suffering, ongoing injury and permanent injury.
Arnold is also asking for a written plea of guilty and apology on official Sheriff’s Office letterhead and payment of all of her attorney fees.
Eventually she asks him to fire him or prevent him from working in predominantly black neighborhoods.
https://atlantablackstar.com/2022/09/23/partially-blind-black-woman-files-excessive-force-lawsuit-against-jefferson-parish-deputy-who-slammed-and-dragged-her-by-her-hair-in-viral-video-after-she-escaped-another-assault/ Black woman files federal civil rights lawsuit against Jefferson Parish Deputy, who slapped and pulled her hair in viral video