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THE INVESTIGATORS: Deputy marshal accused of choking teen at gas station arrested

Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 5:53 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The 9News Investigators have learned deputy marshal Clay Depew with the Jackson Marshal’s Office has been arrested on charges related to allegations that he choked a teenager at a gas station back in February.

Depew turned himself into the East Feliciana Parish Jail on Wednesday, May 5. He faces two charges in the case, including simple battery and malfeasance in office. Another witness crucial to the case came forward with information that led to the charges against the deputy.

Depew remains on leave from the Jackson Marshal’s Office months after being accused of choking a teenager and using racial slurs outside the Main Street Market gas station.

Attorney Ron Haley represents the family of the teenager who was allegedly attacked by the officer. While it took months for the deputy marshal to end up behind bars, Haley says he is glad it happened.

“I think it validates the story and the claims made by my client. I think it validates the story and claims made by those in the car and my client’s father and mother who came to my office to get justice for their son,” said Haley. “I hope this is a shift in police officers that do wrong being held accountable.”

The only view from that night is surveillance video from the store. The problem is that the video does not capture the encounter between the officer and the teen. A source close to the case tells the 9News Investigators another officer who was on the scene that night recently came forward and gave a statement saying Depew did put his hands on the teenager and that he had to step in and pull Depew off the teen.

“Regardless of if he is two or three months too late, kudos for him for coming out and telling his truth,” said Haley.

WAFB’s Scottie Hunter asked the attorney if it is still troubling that there is no body camera video of the encounter even though the officer was equipped with one.

“It is. It’s very troubling and I believe that needs to be addressed,” said Haley.

The 9News Investigators exposed a prior criminal history with the same officer when he was arrested and fired from another agency back in 2017.

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.

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.

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.

It’s unclear if Depew will remain with the Jackson Marshal’s Office. WAFB’s Scottie Hunter is working to track down his future status with the agency.

“An officer like Clay Depew should not be allow to commit crimes while being a police officer in other jurisdictions, in other parishes and other towns only to get those crimes swept under the rug and to be able to apply for new jobs without impunity. He should have never been an officer to do this to my client,” said Haley. “I think at the very least we need to expect that he should not be able to have a badge or a gun again.

It remains unclear what this latest arrest will mean for Depew’s future with the Jackson Marshal’s Office. WAFB has put in several requests to find out the officer’s status with the agency but so far we have not heard back.

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