Bogalusa officers cleared of wrongdoing after man died in custody following tasing

Video shows Bogalusa police handling man who died in their custody, prompting federal lawsuit
Video shows Bogalusa police handling man who died in their custody, prompting federal lawsuit
Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 4:00 PM CST
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BOGALUSA, La. (WVUE) - Multiple Bogalusa police officers and two Washington Parish sheriff’s deputies have been cleared of any wrongdoing in relation to the in-custody death of 28-year-old Eric Nelson, according to District Attorney Warren Montgomery.

Nelson was arrested in December 2021 after he crashed into a ditch, where officers discovered he had outstanding warrants for narcotics.

A civil rights lawsuit, filed by Nelson’s family in November 2022, claims officers lied about Nelson’s condition and the circumstances surrounding his death.

Records say Nelson initially complied when police took him into custody, but police say he attempted to escape before he was brought to jail.

“According to the police, Nelson went into the woods, crossed a stream and went into undergrowth, where he was tased by police and taken into custody,” the lawsuit said.

Nelson allegedly complained of breathing difficulties after being tased.

Montgomery says evidence does not meet the standard for criminal prosecution.

“I reviewed every relative criminal charge to this case,” Montgomery said in a press release on Jan. 20. “Based on all the information known to me involving the death of Eric Nelson while in police custody, no criminal charges will be brought at this time against law enforcement personnel involved in the incident.”

Montgomery presented the case to a Washington Parish grand jury earlier this month. He says he remains open to any additional information presented.

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An attorney representing Nelson’s family provided Fox 8 with surveillance video from Bogalusa’s police headquarters. The video purports to show Nelson -- limp and unconscious -- being dragged out of a police vehicle by a Bogalusa officer and a plain-clothed man. In the video, Nelson’s head can be seen hitting the concrete as he’s pulled out of the police unit.

In the days following the suit, Bogalusa’s 23-year-old mayor-elect Tyrin Truong called for the resignation of the city’s police chief. Chief Kendall Bullen never responded to the mayor-elect’s salvo, only releasing a statement saying that his department was cooperating with state police.

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