JACKSON, La. (WAFB) - Clay Depew remains on leave from the Jackson Marshal’s Office weeks after being accused of choking a teenager and using racial slurs outside the Main Street Market gas station but what the 9news Investigators have uncovered now calls into question whether he should even be on the force at all.
Andrew Scott, a retired police chief and law enforcement expert out of Florida, says Depew should never have been given a gun and a badge in Jackson.
Scott was asked if it was a red flag that the officer was arrested and fired from another agency in 2017.
“He should have never been hired,” said Scott. “A red flag? It’s not just a red flag, it’s a hard stop. Based on my expertise, knowledge, and training, absolutely, he should have never been hired.”
According to arrest reports from the Pointe Coupee Sheriff’s Office, Depew was arrested for stalking and malfeasance in office on August 11, 2017. As a result, he was fired from the sheriff’s office.
The 9News Investigators tried to find out more information about those charges but they were expunged on February 9, 2021. The records were wiped away a little more than two weeks before he was accused of choking a 16-year-old and calling him the N-word but they should have been visible when he was hired in Jackson.
“These are the types of incidences that undermine law enforcement credibility and trust with the community. Why would you hire someone with such a criminal history? I don’t have an answer for that because I can tell you that my agency and the agencies I’ve worked for and that I was chief of police of, I wouldn’t have hired that individual,” Scott added.
Surveillance video from the night Depew is accused of choking that 16-year-old does not show the actual encounter because the teen’s parents say his truck was parked just out of view of the store’s cameras. The teen’s family claims the situation was so bad, though, that another officer had to step in to stop the officer.
The only problem in the situation is there’s no body camera video of the encounter. It’s something the family’s attorney, Ron Haley, calls troubling.
“Listen, we have seen this movie play out,” said Haley. “What is the point of having body cams if they’re not going to be turned on?”
“I equate body cameras as evidence and when an officer intentionally either turns off the body cam or ignores putting it on, he or she is literally tampering with evidence,” Scott explained.
It remains unclear why there’s no body camera video of the encounter because the case is still being investigated but the 9News Investigators do know Depew was equipped with one. The Jackson Marshal’s Office now tells WAFB its deputies are equipped with body cameras and have been since 2015. According to a body camera policy the 9News Investigators requested from the marshal’s office, officers are required to activate their cameras for all contacts with citizens.
The law enforcement expert was also asked if the officer would be in violation of that policy at the very least.
“Sure, absolutely,” he replied.
“Now, the question begs - what is going to be the punishment?” he asked.
It’s unclear whether a background check was performed on the officer when he was hired in Jackson. The agency confirmed he was brought on under the former marshal.
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