Sheriff says altercation took place with Riverside band; attorney disagrees

Published 2:58 pm Friday, March 6, 2015

METAIRIE — Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said the Reserve teenager at the center of a multi-agency investigation into the circumstances of his arrest was involved in a physical altercation while the Riverside Academy marching band was participating in a Mardi Gras parade in Metairie the same day.

Normand addressed the media for the first time about the incident Wednesday (March 4), which concerns the arrest of Brady Becker, a 17-year-old Reserve man punched in the face repeatedly by arresting officer Nicholas Breaux of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office during his Feb. 13 apprehension.

Becker and his attorney David Belfield III called a press conference in the week following his arrest, at which time charges of police brutality were levied against the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

“We came across a situation that occurred just prior to (Becker’s arrest,)” Normand said Wednesday.

“Mr. Becker’s mother (Donnell Becker) is a teacher at Riverside Academy. The Riverside Academy band was marching by the parking lot an hour before this incident, and Mr. Becker takes it upon himself to get into the middle of the band in the street and to get into the face of a seventh grader.”

Normand said the issue got out of hand and a band chaperone put her hand around Becker’s waist in an effort to get Becker to the outside of the band.

“What’s Mr. Becker’s response?” Normand said. “I guess because he was confident that she was not the police, he turned and he shoved her. Then it required three or four other chaperones to get involved in order to remove Mr. Becker from the middle of the band.”

Riverside Principal Perry DiCarlo did not respond to a question this week asking if there were any altercations reported by the band concerning Becker getting in the face of a seventh grader or other student.

DiCarlo did release a statement that said in full:

“Riverside Academy participates in Mardi Gras parades each year. Along the route many people express their appreciation of our marching group. We are very proud of our school and band. The Rebel Band represents our school well and our experiences with the parades have been very positive for our students. Riverside Academy will have no further comment.”

Belfield was emphatic in telling L’OBSERVATEUR Thursday the Riverside Academy band director and DiCarlo told him they never received any complaint about Becker, and Becker was just excited to see the band, adding no altercation occurred.

During Normand’s press conference, the sheriff said authorities have encountered numerous students telling investigators “they are afraid of repercussions because Mr. Becker’s mother is a teacher at Riverside Academy. That is, in my view, tragic. I beg those people to come forward and say what they’ve got to say.”

DiCarlo did not respond to a request for comment about Normand’s assertion.

“I think Mr. Becker needs to learn to keep his hands to himself and, maybe, stay off the alcohol,” Normand said. “That might help everybody. But for some reason his mother wants to say it’s OK. She’s even drinking with him.”

Donnell Becker did not return messages asking for comment.

Normand reported Wednesday Brady Becker’s blood alcohol level was .144 at the time of his arrest, seven times the legal limit for a 17 year old. The legal limit is .02.