Off-duty officer suspended after gun discharges in strip club restroom

GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - An ordinary evening of work for a few employees in Gonzales, LA quickly became a terrifying experience one night in March.

According to police reports and witnesses, an off-duty Gonzales Police Officer was at a strip club in Gonzales, LA on March 13, 2013. The police report states the officer, Chase Delatte, walked into the men's restroom around 1:38 a.m. to check if his personal firearm in an ankle holster was loaded.

The Glock handgun accidentally fired, according to the report.

One employee describes what happened in the early morning hours of March 13 at the Crazy Horse Cabaret. The employee, like her coworkers on shift that night, gave statements to the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office.

"Well basically I just heard a really big bang," said one employee, who asked not to be identified.

One statement reads, "I heard a loud shot sound. After the shot I immediately smelled a faint smell of gun powder."

Another states, "I saw Chase Delatte walking out of the bathroom to the table he was sitting at before."

And yet another, "I went into the men's restroom where I saw the bullet casing on the floor and a hole in the door."

The sheriff's report says Delatte walked out of the men's restroom after the gun fired, walked to his table, paid his tab and left. The report also says the surveillance video shows the same.

Chase Delatte was tracked down at his home later that morning, he told investigators his gun accidentally discharged while he was in the bathroom. The report also describes Delatte's appearance, saying, "Delatte was cooperative while speaking with him but a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage was emitting from his facial area."

The report does not say how Delatte got from the Cabaret to his home.

"I definitely would think that as a police officer you would do more to protect people than put people in danger and that was a real dangerous thing to be doing," said the unnamed employee.

Gonzales Police Chief Sherman Jackson declined an on-camera interview but did answer all our questions by phone. He said his department investigated the incident involving Officer Delatte and appropriate action was taken.

Jackson also released a statement that says, "Once I was notified of Officer Delatte's involvement, an investigation was initiated by my office. Our findings led to the recommendation and subsequent three-day suspension of Officer Delatte in regards to his conduct."

That suspension, according to documents from the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office, is a three day suspension that is effective April 5, 2013. His suspension is for three working days.

The statement from Jackson continues to say, "I know officer Delatte well and firmly believe him to be an officer of exceptional character.  We are thankful that no one was hurt."

According to Jackson this is the first incident involving Delatte where discipline was required but a 9News ITeam investigation in February 2012, revealed he was in a speeding vehicle along with Chief Jackson and other off-duty officers when the driver refused to pull over leading responding Gonzales police officers on a low speed chase through town eventually stopping at police headquarters. According to the report written by the responding officer, Delatte exited the vehicle and told the officer quote, "Man y'all ain't got no life."

While Jackson says Delatte was off duty on March 13, the Gonzales Police Department operations manual states that officers of the department are not authorized to carry a firearm into a bar while off duty. That is a scenario the employee says could have easily had a much different outcome.

"It could have went off anywhere he was just sitting down at the table it could have accidentally been going off. He could have accidentally shot anybody," added the employee.

Gonzales, LA is about 21 miles southeast of Baton Rouge, LA.

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