St. John fatal deputy shooting lawsuit dismissed

Published 12:11 am Saturday, March 18, 2017

LAPLACE — A wrongful death suit filed against St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre and two of his officers in the shooting death of fellow deputy Nolan Anderson was dismissed by a federal judge Tuesday.

The lawsuit was filed by the family of Anderson, a 25-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, who was shot and killed by Sgt. Richard Dubus and Detective Thomas Ricks during a domestic dispute in September of 2014.

U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo ruled there was “simply no legal basis upon which this case can proceed.”

The family, including Anderson’s widow and children, had sought damages for violations of Anderson’s civil rights and for state law claims including wrongful death.

The family can appeal.

Dubus and Ricks responded to Anderson’s home on Sept. 24, 2014, for reports of a domestic disturbance. According to reports, Anderson, who was in uniform and on duty, had kidnapped, beat and threatened to kill his wife.

Dubus and Ricks both fired shots at Anderson after they said he pointed a gun in their direction and refused to surrender.

Dubus testified he fired after Anderson began shooting into the air with his hand around his wife’s neck and was posing a danger to neighbors and other deputies on the scene.

The Sheriff’s Office contended Ricks fired after Dubus’ shot failed to subdue Anderson.

Anderson’s family asserted in the lawsuit the deputies could have used “non-lethal” means to subdue Anderson.

The suit also claimed Anderson had met with Tregre and another deputies two days prior to the incident to resign from the Sheriff’s Office, citing “significant and disturbing personal issues he was experiencing.”

Milazzo dismissed that claim, saying there was no evidence to support the allegations Tregre met with Anderson, knew of Anderson’s personal issues, denied Anderson’s request to resign or violated Anderson’s rights.

“To be sure, the facts of this case are profoundly tragic,” Milazzo wrote. “Plaintiffs have lost their husband and father; Defendants were forced to make the difficult decision to shoot a colleague.”

The Court also rejected claims that Tregre had failed to properly train his staff.

In a release announcing the dismissal, Tregre said “While this case was difficult on many different levels because of the dedicated officer involved and the ultimate decision that had to be made to use deadly force, the Court’s ruling is a great legal victory for the St. John Sheriff’s Office, particularly for the officers involved.

“It clearly validated the professional judgment of those officers who made a very tough decision to take the life of a fellow officer who is sorely missed and who always will be honored for his dedicated service to this community.”