Dulac, LA - According to the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office's mission statement, "The mission of the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office is to prevent crime and maintain order, while affording dignity and respect to all individuals." But in light of a recently surfaced cell phone video, the right to be treated with respect may only be afforded to individuals who haven't been arrested.
According to reports, Christopher Verdin Jr.'s mom called 911 for help after she alleges her son got high on meth and was threatening the entire family with a .45 caliber handgun, even firing two shots at the family dog nearly killing it. She took refuge in the house and called police letting them know she was in fear of her life.
While the allegations against her son may or may not be true, the decision to pronounce judgment against him lies in the hands of a judge and jury, not police. Their job is to respond to the call for help, investigate the matter, and make arrests if they believe any laws were broken.
The TPSO did respond — and took Verdin into custody — who was in possession of a firearm at the time of his arrest. But that's apparently where the police, after having done their jobs, became the torturers in the minds of many.
One beefy officer told Verdin, "You want me to take this f*** badge off and handcuffs off and see what the f*** you really going to do?" the unidentified officer says at the start of the video. "You ain't s*** punk!"
The second part of the TPSO mission statement reads, "To protect lives and property while safeguarding constitutional guarantees, committed to the delivery of police services in the most efficient, fairest, responsive and ethical manner possible."
The parish police were caught on video seemingly intimidating the frail Verdin, even after he'd been arrested and placed into the patrol car. They can be heard cussing at him, challenging him to respond to their cursings with physical violence, and threatening him.
The third part of the mission statement promises the parish police will, "impartially enforce all laws and ordinances," but it appears one unnamed TPSO officer wanted to discriminate against Verdin's rights to due process. He jerked the man who probably weighs less than 100 pounds out of the car, removed his handcuffs, and challenged him to a fight.
In the same paragraph as the promised impartiality, the TPSO's mission statement promised to treat its citizens with, "sensitivity to the priorities and needs of the people." Who knows what was going on with Verdin? He was verbally out of control but in the video appears to be scared, and compliant, especially being faced with a beating from police officers.
While we at TFTP don't have our heads in the sand, ignoring the fact that citizens consume substances, become out of control, break laws, and may need to be arrested, their rights to being treated in a fair and equitable manner don't end when the cuffs are on.
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If this man did do all the things he is accused of, his case is now tainted by this unprofessional cop. Instead of a criminal being taken off the street, this man now has grounds for a lawsuit — which will punish the taxpayers — not the cop.
The TPSO mission statement promises its officers will, "promote professionalism and pride among the employees of the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office."
However, professionalism, arguably, was not on display during Verdin's arrest. The real question now is, "What is Sheriff Jerry Larpenter going to do about his out of control police officer?" The answer to that question may be found in a statement issued by the TPPD.
It reads, "A citizen at the scene used his cell phone to video record this incident that only captures a portion of the incident...The deputy choice of words was not very professional and does not reflect the integrity of the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office." Apparently, they didn't see what the rest of us see.
Sure, words hurt. But what about his actions? He removed the cuffs of an already subdued suspect, who'd been detained and placed in the back of a patrol car.
If this man did the things he was accused of, the cop placed the public in harm's way once more. He then threatened and seemed prepared to carry out those threats against a much weaker individual.
Any police officer who wears the badge for the parish must subscribe to the mission statement the parish is sworn to uphold. The video clearly shows a TPPD cussing at a suspect, manhandling him, removing his cuffs, and challenging him to a fistfight which the young man would certainly lose against several officers.
By choosing to behave in said manner, the police officer lowered himself to the same level as the very criminals he's sworn to arrest and prosecute.
As TFTP has reported on many occasions, not only are police officers routinely caught on camera threatening the very public they're sworn to protect, but some officers, like Springfield, IL officer Samuel Rosario sometimes carry out their threats. Rosario, perturbed by the interjections from an angry young man, then challenged the man to a fight.
After the man didn't take the bait, Rosario could not hold back any longer. He gave the young man a beat down, in his own front yard.
Rosario was later fired for his actions and charged with assault, in what will likely be an open and shut case against the officer, now turned criminal.