DISCLAIMER: All persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
PLAQUEMINES PARISH, La. (WGNO)— The family of a 12-year-old boy who was arrested in February is calling for the termination and investigation of two Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Deputies who took him into custody.
A statement released late Wednesday night by family representative Dr. Ashonta Wyatt claims the juvenile’s constitutional rights were violated by the deputies involved, specifically two sergeants in the department.
The arrest dates back to around 6:45 p.m. on February 19 when the PPSO responded to a report of a group riding four ATVs and a dirtbike who were driving recklessly into oncoming traffic on Woodland Highway in Belle Chasse. Detectives say the drivers had no headlights, were speeding, driving on sidewalks, and passing through oncoming traffic.
Three of the five drivers escaped the parish, however, the other two were arrested that night. First, 20-year-old Jaiques Wilson of New Orleans was taken into custody after crashing an ATV head-on inside the Belle Chasse tunnel, sustaining minor injuries.
The second arrest was the juvenile, who the PPSO says was driving the dirtbike. This is where claims made by the sheriff’s office and the child’s family contradict each other.
In a Facebook post, the sheriff’s office says that the 12-year-old, who was wearing a full-face helmet and was taller than most of the responding deputies, refused to get off his dirtbike that had become inoperable. The juvenile reportedly refused any demands to get off his bike, leading to a struggle with deputies while trying to avoid being handcuffed.
However, the family’s attorney says the pre-teen was non-resistant. In dash cam footage from that night, deputies are reportedly seen snatching the juvenile off the bike and slamming him on the ground. The video also shows one deputy kicking the suspect while another kneels on top of the suspect. Watch the video below.
DASHCAM FOOTAGE: Deputy appears to kick 12-year-old suspect during Plaquemines Parish arrest (Video courtesy: Ashonta Wyatt)
The family’s legal team also says the deputies endangered the life of the 12-year-old, who was left with a concussion and a fractured left arm. But, the PPSO reports the child, who was later released to a parent, didn’t complain of any injuries and wasn’t treated. Even more, the sheriff’s office says the case video shows the child displaying normal behavior prior to his release, and there had since been no complaints by the family regarding his injuries.
The juvenile was charged with two felonies and two misdemeanors including resisting arrest. With the case still being in the adjudication process, the PPSO says detectives are limited on what can be released, however, a statement from the sheriff’s office claims that the appropriate use of force was made to take the suspect into custody.
Additionally, the sheriff’s office says that the family’s legal team is also representing Reginald Hamilton, a teenager who was also arrested in Plaquemines Parish on similar charges in May. Last week, Hamilton was released after posting a bond that was reduced from $500,000 to $152,000.
“After recently retaining the services of the same legal counsel as Reginald Hamilton, it is clear these allegations are an attempt to present edited, contextualized content to inflame the public’s perception of the facts of these incidents. All the facts of these cases will be presented in a court of law and we are confident the truth will be presented and justice will be served in both cases.”