BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office deputy has been suspended for allegedly breaking the law, according to Sheriff Jason Ard.
"What he [deputy] did was broke the law, no disregard for anybody the way I look at it," said Ard.
Ard is referring to a deputy who he says parked illegally in a handicap space in the Best Buy parking lot in Baton Rouge on Sunday afternoon. WAFB Anchor Donna Britt, who has been diagnosed with ALS and is wheelchair-bound, says she took photos of a marked LPSO unit parked in a handicap space right in front of the store.
The SUV did not have a plate, decal, or placard indicating the driver has a disability. Sheriff Ard says he contacted the deputy, whose name he is not disclosing, as soon as the saw the photo Donna posted on Twitter.
"There was no excuse. I didn't even give him the opportunity to give me an excuse. There's no reason for him needing that spot," said Ard.
Louisiana laws state the spots painted blue are only to be used by people whose vehicles are identified by special parking materials for mobility impaired. First-time offenders face a fine of $275. The fine goes up to $500 after that. Ard says the sheriff's unit was not ticketed. Therefore, no fine was issued, but he says the deputy has been disciplined.
Ard says the off-duty deputy has been with the sheriff's office for over five years and should have known better. "There's no excuse for it. There's no excuse at all," said Ard.
Sheriff Ard called Donna on Monday afternoon to apologize and said the deputy would remember what he did wrong. Donna explained to the sheriff she is not so much aiming for punishment, but awareness.
"When you have paralyzed legs like I do, you can't get out of the car without the extra space that a handicap zone provides. That's why it's important that a handicapped driver and rider gets to park there," said Britt.
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