Lawsuit: Gun pointed at woman’s face

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, June 10, 2015

LAPLACE — One life-long LaPlace resident has filed suit against two St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office authorities after she said a traffic stop included an officer pointing a gun in her face.

Enjoli Stipe, represented by attorney Nghana Lewis Gauff, filed suit last week with the St. John Parish Clerk of Court. The lawsuit names Sheriff Mike Tregre and officer Steven Daley as defendants.

Tregre is being sued “for maintaining a custom of knowingly employing officers who use threatening, terrorizing and intimidating tactics when stopping citizens for alleged traffic violations.”

Tregre said, as with all active litigation, he would not comment on the matter.

According to the lawsuit, Daley pointed a weapon in Stipe’s face and threatened to kill her during a May 28 traffic stop, during which Daley – according to Stipe – told her “don’t play with me. I’ll shoot you. I’ll arrest you and take you in and think nothing of it.”

Stipe said she immediately called 911 after driving away from the traffic stop.

“I feel like I should bring it to the attention of the court and public because I believe it’s been done to many other people,” said Stipe, who was alone in her car when the traffic stop occurred.

Gauff said the 911 respondent told Stipe to contact the Sheriff’s Office’s internal affairs division.

Capt. C.J. Destor, who Tregre confirmed heads the division, is also named in the suit.

According to Stipe, she met with Destor June 2 and identified Daley by photograph.

According to Gauff, Destor indicated he would not subject Daley to an investigation after Stipe refused to take a polygraph test.

The lawsuit lists several cases in which Daley has been named as a defendant.

“Defendant Tregre knows about the threatening and intimidating conduct Defendant Daley … use(s) with citizens in the course of conducting ordinary traffic stops,” the lawsuit states.

“Tregre sanctions the conduct by deliberately failing to conduct impartial investigations.”

Because “Defendant Daley’s conduct was of a criminal nature and constituted an aggravated assault with a weapon,” Stipe is seeking damages stemming from her suffering of “severe emotional distress and anxiety, depression, asthma attacks, nightmares and sleepless.

“The amount of (Stipe’s) damages exceeds $50,000,” the lawsuit states. “(Stipe) seeks attorney fees and costs of the instant litigation, with interest from the date of the judicial demand, as well as all other equitable relief this Court deems appropriate.”

Gauff said Tregre and Daley had 15 days after they were served the litigation paperwork in which to file a response to the claims.

She said the papers are served to defendants no more than 10 days after they are filed.

“No one should have to feel like their life is threatened during a traffic stop,” Stipe said, adding her hope is authorities “properly handle it like they’re supposed to and get (Daley) off the street.”