LAFOURCHE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - The 9News Investigators have obtained video surveillance that shows a south Louisiana police chief punching a man outside of a bar, then throwing a woman to the ground. Now, that same chief in Golden Meadow is accused of trying to cover it up.
The surveillance video from TK’s Sports Bar in Golden Meadow shows what appears to be a scuffle on the front porch. In the middle of it all is Police Chief Reggie Pitre, who was in plain clothes and off-duty. In the video, the chief appears to punch a man pinned against the rail in the face. That man is Jason Cortez. When his wife tried to separate them, you can see Chief Pitre grab her and throw her to the ground.
The couple has hired New Orleans attorney William Most. “It’s an incredible, harrowing thing to watch,” Most said.
The video shows Assistant Police Chief Charles Findley showing up at the bar a few minutes later. What happens next, attorney Most says, you cannot see on camera. But according to the report the assistant chief wrote up, the off-duty chief told him the other man punched him, not the other way around. The chief ordered him to arrest Cortez for battery on an officer... and he did.
“Mr. Cortez was tased. He was held a night in jail. He was held on a $75,000 bond,” Most said.
But according to a revised police report filed later by Assistant Chief Findley, Chief Pitre’s story did not match up with the video evidence. Findley said after reviewing bar surveillance video, “at no point during the did Mr. Cortez ever hit Chief Pitre.”
The report includes statements from several bystanders, including the singer of the band playing inside the bar that night. She said Cortez, who admitted he was drunk, tried to get on stage and knocked over the microphone. She also said Chief Pitre escorted Cortez out of the bar. She said Jason put up a fight as he was being walked outside, but according to the video evidence, Findley writes “Cortez never punched the chief.”
“After he found out his chief had been lying, he went and apologized to the Cortezes, saying he would have never arrested Mr. Cortez if he knew the truth,” Most said.
WAFB has learned Findley has since been demoted from his position as assistant chief.
The Cortezes have filed a lawsuit against Pitre and the Town of Golden Meadow for excessive force, manufacturing false evidence, abuse of process, and other claims.
Chief Pitre initially agreed to comment on the matter, but changed his mind after the 9News Investigators informed him he is being sued. He did, however, confirm Findley is still on the force, but is no longer his assistant chief. We asked to speak to him, but were told Findley is out on medical leave.
The district attorney has dropped the charges against Cortez citing “discrepancies with the evidence.”