Sheriff Tregre, deputy named in wrongful death lawsuit

Published 10:45 am Wednesday, December 24, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE — St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre and one of his deputies have been named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the sister of a man who died while in police custody in July.

The suit names Tregre and Deputy Anthony Preyan as responsible parties for the death of Ennis Labaux, 37, of LaPlace.

Fax-filed on Dec. 16 and stamped by St. John Parish Clerk of Court Eliana DeFrancesch on Monday, the suit was filed by Alisha Labaux, Ennis’ sister, and cites lack of departmental training on electronic control devices, proper arrest techniques, proper use of a leg restraints and proper protocol for dealing with medical emergencies as the reasons for her brother’s death.

Because of the pending lawsuit Tregre said he was limited on what he could say about the case.

“Evidence will prove that the Taser did not cause (Labaux’s) death and it will be proven that the offices acted, responded and reacted appropriately while being attacked,” he said.

Four St. John Parish deputies responded at 1:54 a.m. July 5 to a residence at 243 Belle Terre Boulevard in LaPlace following a disturbance report. Trooper Evan Harrell of the Louisiana State Police said Labaux was the reason for the call.

The suit states Labaux “was experiencing difficulty breathing and had just returned from River Parishes Hospital to his home … when he injured his niece with a knife.”

Alisha called 911, the suit states, and “while other officers placed handcuffs and then leg restraints on (Labaux), Preyan discharged his SJSO department-issued Taser.”

Harrell said in July Labaux stopped breathing during the altercation, adding deputies immediately started performing CPR before EMS personnel arrived.

Labaux was transferred to River Parishes Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A deputy was also taken to the hospital as a result of the altercation.

According to Harrell, family members told authorities Labaux had threatened members of his family late Friday night/early Saturday morning and at one point was disarmed by a member of his family before deputies arrived on the scene.

Preyan was placed on paid leave following the altercation, and has since returned to duty.

The suit alleges the acts of responding deputies “were extreme, outrageous, sudden, unexpected and caused (Labaux) extreme mental and emotional distress, great physical pain and suffering, a deprivation of his life and liberty and due process of law.”

The suit, which requests a trial by jury and unspecified damages, also claims Alisha has sustained damages including “loss of support, loss of love and affection, loss of services and society, pain and suffering, severe and extreme emotional distress and mental anguish.”