Sheriff fires back at Becker’s claims

Published 8:30 am Saturday, March 7, 2015

LAPLACE — “We didn’t start this, Becker did. Becker started this situation.”

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand didn’t mince words Wednesday when he broke his nearly three week silence on the arrest — and subsequent brutality claim — of Brady Becker, the 17-year-old Reserve student punched in the face repeatedly by arresting officer Nicholas Breaux of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office during a Feb. 13 arrest.

Becker is charged with inciting a riot, resisting an officer, battery of a police officer and underage possession of alcohol.

Becker’s arrest, some of which was captured on video and has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times in a graphic 37-second YouTube upload, was performed by Breaux, named as the arresting and transporting officer, and Cory Porche, listed as an arresting officer.

Following “a lot of misinformation being related by the media” regarding the arrest, Normand said Wednesday in a press conference there is another video the public hasn’t seen, and it portrays a much different picture from what Becker is trying to paint.

“Let’s talk about what we do know,” Normand declared before saying Becker and his attorney, David Belfield III, participated in fabricating information in an attempt to manipulate the media and public.

Normand added Becker and Belfield’s attempt to disparage the reputation of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office did not go unnoticed.

“That will never happen,” Normand said, adding he was “very suspect of what was playing out” in the days following Becker’s arrest.

On Thursday, Belfield said the Sheriff’s Office press conference was a “dog and pony show to muddy the waters and change public opinion about Becker.”

Normand said videos and pictures submitted to his office do not collaborate Becker’s claim of blind brutality. He added in a recorded jail phone call, Becker’s mother told her son to be aware of Belfield’s impending visit and that “he’s a lawyer that goes after cops.”

“Everybody has been focused on the what, the video,” Normand said. “Nobody is focused on the why. What happened? Why did it occur?”

Normand said previous to the fight between Breaux and Becker, officers were attempting to arrest Becker’s friend, also a student at St. Charles Catholic High School, for possession of marijuana.

During that arrest, Normand said his officers, who were conducting proactive patrol in civilian clothing, were faced with a situation in which Becker and a group of approximately 25 – 30 people began to chant obscenities that included “[expletive deleted] the police” and “[expletive deleted] the pigs.”

“Mr. Becker decides he is going to step in the middle and pushes our officer back and another individual ends up punching the other officer that was with him at that point in time,” Normand said.

Colonel John Fortunato, public information office commander for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, said whoever was responsible for the thrown punch at Porche was not arrested, adding “the group started to disperse once the physical altercation (between Breaux and Becker) started to take place.”

Belfield said Porche, who never tried to stop Breaux, “is not out of the woods” and is “just as guilty as Breaux.”

Normand said additional and elongated video footage captured another person in the crowd reaching for Breaux’s gun before being pushed away, in what was a “very high energy scene.”

The first arrest “motivated anger” in Becker, Normand said, adding Becker’s blood alcohol level was .144 — seven times over the legal limit for someone his age.

“Mr. Becker was incredibly pissed off that we were arresting his friend, a fellow high school student, for possession of marijuana,” Normand said. “That is why they started the chant … that is why our two officers broke off the altercation of (Wagner’s) arrest, went over to the other group of 25 to 30 and said, ‘what’s the problem?’”

Becker visited the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Feb. 20 to formally file a complaint against Breaux regarding the arrest, Belfield said.

“I am completely mystified by his asking for my deputy’s job,” Normand said of Becker’s pleas that Breaux be taken off of his patrol for brutality. “(Becker) caused this, no one else. But I guess in today’s spirit for lack of accountability in the world that we live in today, should I expect anything less? What I expect is an apology by Becker.”

Fortunato said Breaux’s policing assignment has not been altered since the arrest or the launch of the investigation.

Normand said it “ain’t always pretty” concerning what the law allows as far as police officers defending themselves, and that nothing in his department’s investigation — which is “alive and well and moving forward” — points to any wrongdoing by Breaux.

Becker, Normand said, needs to keep his hands to himself and lay off the alcohol.

According to an arrest register and crime report narrative, Becker was brought to University Hospital for injuries that included swelling to his right and left jaw and a laceration and swelling to his left eye. After treatment, Becker was taken to the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center for booking.

“While at University Hospital, Becker asked detectives what happened earlier in the night,” the narrative states.

“Becker then advised that he did not have any recollection of what occurred on the parade route.”

The report concludes by saying Becker told authorities “he had consumed a half bottle of Crown” that night.

During a press conference in the week following the arrest, Becker said Breaux “assaulted me. He violated my rights. He treated me like I was lower than what I am … he treated me like I’m not even a person.”

Belfield said even “if (Becker) was drunk out of his mind, he still has rights.”

“Officer Breaux used excessive force,” Belfield said.

“That’s the case in a nutshell.”