Residents speak out against deputies

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 14, 2002


NORCO – Some Diamond Subdivision residents claimed this week that St. Charles Parish sheriff’s deputies frightened and alarmed the neighborhood, reportedly in search of robbers.

Capt. Patrick Yoes had no comment on the matter, except to say it was a single deputy who, for his own safety’s sake until backup arrived, took control of the situation.

Consuella Butler of 139 Diamond Road, said it was a quiet day when, at about 6 p.m. Tuesday, deputies entered the neighborhood, rounded up everyone in sight and searched and cuffed several people, mostly teen-agers.

They then shoved them to the ground, Butler continued, cursed at them and kept them there for at least 45 minutes before being allowed to sit up. After more than an hour, they were uncuffed and released. Her own son, Terrance, 17, ran to her in tears.

“I just think it was an excuse to come into the neighborhood and harrass these children,” Butler said of the alleged incident. “They think we’re just going to let it go.”

The first story deputies reportedly told residents was they were searching for suspects in the First National Bank USA robbery which took place two hours previously in LaPlace.

Then, Butler said, the story changed and became one where two undercover officers were supposedly threatened by two men in another vehicle, who pointed a gun at them and demanded cash.

The robbers made off with the cash and drove off, but later abandoned the vehicle on Diamond Road to flee on foot. When deputies arrived, some 10 persons were grouped around the car, examining it, and they rounded up those persons.

Yoes did say it was an armed robbery incident under investigation, and the people were standing around the car, trying to conceal it from police.

“I think it’s totally fabricated,” Butler responded, and claimed, “There was no abandoned vehicle on Diamond Road.”

Instead, she said four young people were playing cards at a table in Bethune Park, some were strolling around and others were on the porches of their homes.

“They knew it was a popular place for our youth,” Butler said of the park.

One resident, Louenda Charles, took her 17-year-old granddaughter to River Parishes Hospital in LaPlace after she was shoved into a ditch, then hauled out and slammed to the ground by deputies, hurting her knee.

Butler said she is gathering signatures for a petition to demand a meeting with Champagne and Yoes, and added, “He’s going to answer to us for that.”

However, she expressed doubt that much would come of it.

“You know cops are going to stick together,” she said.