Lafayette Police officer hits handcuffed man within the face. A grand jury dropped costs.

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It was New 12 months’s Eve 2021 and the Lafayette Police Division was referred to as to a resort the place a person was banging on a door and being unruly.

One other man staying there mentioned he was robbed by Edmond Thornton and reluctantly agreed to press costs to get officers to take Thornton away, in keeping with police data.

Former Officer Alex Ritter positioned Thornton, who later advised an LPD supervisor he was intoxicated, behind his police unit. Thornton yelled and kicked. He was unruly, Ritter wrote in his police report.

When Ritter pulled as much as the Lafayette Parish Correctional Middle, he alone tried to escort the handcuffed man inside, a video obtained by The Every day Advertiser reveals.

However Thornton “resisted” and whereas Ritter waited for correctional workers to open the jail door, he struggled with Thornton, ultimately hitting him within the jaw and head eight occasions to “acquire management,” in keeping with Ritter’s report on the incident.

Ritter was fired after an Internal Affairs investigation and costs had been introduced in opposition to him. However a Lafayette Parish grand jury declined the malfeasance in workplace cost and the district legal professional’s workplace dismissed the straightforward battery cost. And Ritter wants his job back.

What occurred when former Officer Alex Ritter arrested Edmond Thornton?

Lafayette Law enforcement officials had been referred to as at about 11 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2021, to an armed theft at a resort within the 2800 block of Northeast Evangeline Thruway.

After they arrived, there was a shirtless man “banging obnoxiously” on a door, in keeping with a police report written by Ritter. The person, later recognized as Thornton, walked away when he noticed officers however stopped after they requested.

Thornton appeared “extremely intoxicated,” swaying backwards and forwards and slurring his phrases, Ritter wrote.

Ritter walked Thornton to his patrol automobile and advised the person he was being detained till the officers may work out what was occurring.

Thornton grabbed the entrance push bumper and mentioned “simply cuff me to the car,” in keeping with the report. Ritter advised him to let go and handcuffed Thornton, although Thornton tried to “detach” himself and did not initially comply. Thornton was put behind the automobile.

Officers discovered the person who mentioned Thornton robbed him. He mentioned he was strolling outdoors together with his son when Thornton, who they’d seen round earlier than, approached them with a knife and mentioned he needed their cash, in keeping with the report.

Thornton hit the person, who advised officers he did not combat again. He had a number of giant knots on his head, in keeping with the report. The person mentioned his pockets, which had $60 in it was taken. Officers discovered a field cutter on high of a close-by garbage can.

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The person advised officers he was reluctant to fill out an announcement, fearing for his household and worrying about what would occur to Thornton, however did not need Thornton round anymore. He ultimately determined to put in writing one and press costs to get officers to take Thornton away, in keeping with the report.

Ritter went again to his patrol automobile and advised Thornton he was beneath arrest for armed theft and easy battery. Thornton, who had been faraway from the backseat to have his handcuffs adjusted, was positioned again within the automobile however lunged ahead in an “aggressive method, Ritter mentioned in his report.

“Mr. Thornton started banging his head in opposition to the window of my unit,” Ritter wrote. “Mr. Thornton was suggested to cease the self-harm he was inflicting on himself and in the direction of the car. He then started to scream unknown utterances.”

Thornton continued to scream and yell whereas Ritter drove downtown to the Lafayette Parish Correctional Middle. Thornton requested Ritter for his badge quantity and title. He requested the place Ritter lived and mentioned he would discover his household, Ritter mentioned in his report.

On the jail, Ritter tried to get Thornton out of his automobile and put his hand on his arm. However Thornton “was getting aggressive and was not complying to verbal instructions” to get out. As soon as Thornton did get out, Ritter stored his hand on Thornton’s arm whereas strolling to the consumption door.

Thornton was “passively resisting by not complying and making an attempt to drag again in the direction of my unit,” Ritter wrote in his report. Thornton “sprung ahead in an try to flee my grasp and flee,” Ritter wrote.

A supervisor wrote in his report that Ritter advised Thornton to “decide up the tempo” and Thornton sped up his stroll whereas heading towards the jail’s door. Thornton later advised that supervisor he was shifting slowly as a result of his hand harm and was being a “sensible ass” when he started strolling sooner.

Video of the incident reveals Thornton quicken his stroll towards the consumption door after which Ritter slammed him up in opposition to the wall, pushing his head in opposition to it.

Ritter hit the button on the consumption door however it did not unlock. He waited practically a minute earlier than a corrections officer opened the door, video reveals.

Whereas ready for the door to open, Ritter and Thornton struggled. Ritter mentioned Thornton was resisting.

Video reveals a handcuffed Thornton making an attempt to twist from the wall and face Ritter. Thornton’s elbow knocked Ritter’s physique warn digicam off. Ritter held Thornton, who moved to face the officer, by the throat earlier than pushing the person to face in opposition to the wall, the video reveals.

Ritter yelled at Thornton and cursed at him whereas telling him to cease resisting, the video reveals.

“Whereas making an attempt to maintain Mr. Thornton on the wall, he stored making an attempt to show round in the direction of me, as I felt it was a approach for Mr. Thornton to disengage from my grasp,” Ritter wrote. He wrote that Thornton elbowed him thrice through the altercation.

Thornton bucked his physique away from the wall and once more tried to face Ritter, however Ritter slammed him again and punched him within the jaw and again of the pinnacle eight occasions.

“I delivered emptied (sic) handed shut fist strikes to Mr. Thornton’s jawline till compliance was rendered by Mr. Thornton and he stopped resisting,” Ritter wrote. “It was at the moment I used to be capable of acquire sufficient compliance of Mr. Thornton that I used to be capable of management him into the nook wall…”

A correctional officer opened the door and Ritter pulled Thornton inside. Thornton was handcuffed to a bench inside as a result of he was “nonetheless extremely aggressive,” Ritter wrote in his report.

Thornton was later taken to a hospital for analysis earlier than being booked within the jail and charged with armed theft, easy battery, easy escape, resisting an officer, self-mutilation of a prisoner and battery on a police officer.

He was later indicted by a grand jury on armed theft, easy escape, battery of a police officer and resisting arrest costs.

What occurred after the incident?

Ritter referred to as a supervisor to finish a use-of-force report. The supervisor reviewed Ritter’s body-worn digicam footage, video from the Lafayette Parish Correctional Middle, Thornton’s medical data and interviewed Thornton.

The supervisor advised Ritter there was a legal investigation and requested if he needed to be interviewed. Ritter mentioned he had an legal professional who he would seek the advice of with. By Feb. 3, 2021, the supervisor had heard from neither, in keeping with his report.

Ritter was fired and charged with easy battery and malfeasance within the workplace on April 7, 2021. Ritter had been on the job lower than a yr earlier than he was fired.

The Lafayette Police Division’s use-of-force coverage from 2014 states that “officers shall solely use the kind and diploma of power that’s fairly essential to have an effect on an arrest.” What kind of power is used is judged as “the minimal power crucial to perform a respectable police goal.”

“The officer should assess every state of affairs to find out the kind and diploma of power required,” the coverage states. “Wanting bodily power, there are a number of strategies by which an officer can affect an uncooperative topic.”

Acceptable makes use of of power embody officer presence, verbal instructions, mushy empty hand management, onerous empty hand management and pepper spray, in keeping with the coverage.

Prices dismissed, lawsuit filed

However in Might, a Lafayette grand jury issued a “no true invoice” associated to the malfeasance in workplace cost, that means it did not assume there was sufficient proof for the fifteenth Judicial District Lawyer’s Workplace to pursue the cost.

Due to the secrecy surrounding grand juries, it’s unknown who the members heard testify or what was offered to the members.

The easy battery cost was then dismissed by the district legal professional’s workplace, in keeping with courtroom data.

“The one remark we’ve got is that after presentation of video, testimonial, and documentary proof by the Lafayette Parish DA’s Workplace, a Grand Jury issued a no true invoice; and the DA’s workplace dismissed all pending payments of data,” Allyson Melancon, Ritter’s legal professional, mentioned in an emailed assertion.

Thornton pleaded responsible in December to easy battery and the prosecution dismissed the opposite costs, in keeping with courtroom data. He was sentenced to serve six months within the parish jail with credit score for time served.

Thornton additionally filed a federal lawsuit claiming his constitutional rights had been violated by Ritter and Lafayette Consolidated Authorities, which oversees the police division.

Thornton alleged LCG has a “historical past of failing to correctly supervise, monitor and coaching Lafayette Law enforcement officials” and overlooks and fails to research officer misconduct “which created a consequence-free surroundings the place (Ritter) felt free to violate (Thornton’s) constitutional rights,” in keeping with courtroom filings.

Ritter denied that he violated Thornton’s rights and mentioned he acted in good religion and with possible trigger.

That lawsuit is predicted to be heard by a decide for a bench trial in August 2023.

Ritter has filed an enchantment of his self-discipline with the Lafayette Fireplace and Police Civil Service Board. His legal professional, Allyson Melancon argued he was fired with out trigger and in dangerous religion. The board may uphold Ritter’s termination, determine to levy lesser self-discipline or determine self-discipline was not crucial and reinstate Ritter with again pay.

A date for that listening to has not but been set.

Contact Ashley White at adwhite@theadvertiser.com or on Twitter @AshleyyDi.

This text initially appeared on Lafayette Every day Advertiser: Lafayette Police officer fired for hitting handcuffed man wants job back



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