Family of man who died in WBR jail files lawsuit

WEST BATON ROUGE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Exactly one week after Ervin Edwards was found dead inside a padded jail cell in the West Baton Rouge Parish Prison, his family filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Federal Court.

"All parties are going to have to be served - formally served with this document," said family attorney Joel Porter.

Porter claims Edwards died as a result of being tazed by West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's deputies after he was arrested for disturbing the peace at a Chevron Station on Highway 415 on November 26.

"It really doesn't matter if it was a lawful arrest or unlawful arrest. They killed an unarmed man. It was unprovoked, it was unjustified, it was unwarranted in a very callous and cowardly manner," said Porter.

The lawsuit alleges the use of excessive force by parish deputies. The suit claims Edwards was tazed after his girlfriend warned deputies about his medical conditions. Sheriff Mike Cazes says he understands the family's pain and elected to have the Jefferson Parish Coroner's Office handle the autopsy and cause of death investigation.

"It's sad Mr. Edwards passed away," said Cazes. "I can't control that and that's why I'm getting to the bottom of it by getting Jefferson Parish Coroner's Office to investigate and give me a report."

Porter claims Edwards death was unprovoked and has requested all video surveillance collected at the West Baton Rouge Parish Prison and from the initial arrest scene. He is calling for the Federal Justice Department, FBI and State Police to get involved but Cazes says his department has nothing to hide.

"I've been investigated by the FBI before, I'd be happy to entertain anyone who wants to come in and look at my file or whatever files we have on hand on everything we have. I'm not here to cover up anything," said Cazes.

"Here a mother has to plan the burial of a son and a son has to come into Christmas without the joy of his father being present. That should not be," added Porter.

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