Fallout from unlawful arrests continues

Published: Feb. 10, 2014 at 4:37 AM CST
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The situation involving the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office and a series of publicized unlawful arrests may be far from resolved because although the sheriff has apologized, the arrests in these particular cases could result in consequences that go well beyond dialogue.

For nearly a week, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux has issued several statements apologizing for what he said were arrests made under an unenforceable law.

"The sheriff took full responsibility for the actions of his employees," said Capital City Alliance Secretary Carrie Wooten.

Wooten said Gautreaux met with members of CCA and other civil rights groups on Wednesday to discuss the arrests. Gautreaux also distributed a statement with nine bullet points to the media. Among those bullet points are:

- I have publicly stated that the Sheriff's Office will not use these unconstitutional sections of the law in future cases.

- I have issued a public apology to those harmed and offended by these investigations.

Wooten said the statements and Wednesday's meeting are a good start but only time will tell.

"Actions speak louder than words and we will be monitoring our relationship with him moving forward and holding him accountable to the commitments he's made to the best to remedy the situation," Wooten added.

Tommy Damico represents two of what he said are the 12 men who were arrested as part of sheriff's office stakeouts and added he has been contacted by two others as well.

"It was the sheriff's office who were the ones going out and making the initial contact, the aggressors, if you were, so it wasn't like these people were out going out, making initial contact," said Damico.

He added the defendants he represents spent between $7,500 and $12,000 on bonds and legal fees. The sheriff's office said it is not ruling out paying all legal fees connected to the arrests but Damico believes there may ultimately be more than 12 defendants.

"I've actually talked to some people and it was going on in 2005 for sure and you know, they weren't in that initial 12 that came out in original story, so I'm sure it is more than that," Damico explained.

Damico said his clients and other defendants have not ruled out a civil lawsuit against the sheriff's office and added options are being considered. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has also contacted Damico with regards to a possible lawsuit against EBRSO.

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