United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
ANN VIAL LEMMON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion In
Limine asking the court to take judicial notice of the
jury verdict in Randle v. Tragre, C/A No. 15-395, in
the United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Louisiana (Doc. #59) is GRANTED as
IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion
In Limine asking the court to take judicial notice
of motions in limine filed by the District Attorney
in certain criminal actions in the 40th Judicial
District Court, Parish of St. John the Baptist, State of
Louisiana (Doc. #62) is GRANTED as
IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion for
Leave to File Rule 56(c) Objection (Doc. #68) is
IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion for
Summary Judgment (Doc. #60) is DENIED.
IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment (Doc. #61) is GRANTED, and
plaintiff's claims against the defendant are
matter is before the court on cross motions for summary
judgment filed by plaintiff and defendant.
July 1, 2012, to April 7, 2015, plaintiff, Travis Thomas, who
is African American, was employed as a deputy with the St.
John the Baptist Parish Sheriff's Office
("SJBPSO") in the narcotics division. Defendant,
Michael Tragre, who is also African American, is the Sheriff
of St. John the Baptist Parish. In February 2014, Thomas and
Hardy Schexnayder, another African American narcotics
officer, informed the narcotics division supervisor, Walter
Chappel, an African American, that Justin Bordelon, who is
white, used excessive force on an African American suspect
named Darnell Randle while he was detained.
C.J. Destor, who is a white employee of the SJBPSO, conducted
an internal affairs investigation into the matter. Destor
interviewed all of the deputies involved and Randle. Thomas
told Destor that he saw Bordelon hit Randle in the face with
a flashlight. Schexnayder and Detective Jonathan Rivet, who
is African American, corroborated Thomas' story. Bordelon
told Destor that, while Thomas was trying to get control over
Randle, Thomas forced Randle into a door frame, which
resulted in a cut on Randle's face. Bordelon also stated
that he tried to pry a bag of cocaine out of Randle's
mouth by using pressure points and his flashlight as a tool,
and at some point he put Randle in a headlock. Randle told
Destor that Thomas and Schexnayder, not Bordelon, were the
officers that beat him. Polygraph tests determined that
Bordelon was truthful and Schexnayder was untruthful.
Thomas's polygraph test was inconclusive. Destor
recommended exonerating Bordelon, and taking disciplinary
action, possibly termination, against Thomas and Schexnayder.
After considering all of the evidence, Sheriff Tragre did not
find any of the deputies' versions of events to be
conclusive because there were multiple conflicting
statements. Thus, Sheriff Tragre did not take any
disciplinary action against any of the officers at that time.
later, Sheriff Tragre was informed by the District Attorney
of the 40th Judicial District that the results of
the aforementioned internal affairs investigation were being
sought or would be sought by criminal defense attorneys in
cases where the deputies involved were to serve as witnesses.
District Attorney Bridget A. Dinvaut instructed the felony
prosecutors to file motions in limine in such cases
to exclude the internal affairs report, particularly the
results of the polygraph tests, from being introduced as
evidence. Sheriff Tragre thought the internal affairs report
in this matter would be problematic if produced in criminal
cases and decided to transfer Thomas and Schexnayder to
positions where they would be less likely to make arrests
that would necessitate their testifying in court.
alleges that Sheriff Tragre decided to transfer Thomas and
Schexnayder to the corrections department. Thomas claims that
he met with Sheriff Tragre and explained that placing former
narcotics officers in the corrections department was a
security risk because a large number of the inmates were
arrested by Thomas and Schexnayder and those inmates may have
hostile feelings toward them. Thomas viewed the proposed
transfer to the corrections department as a demotion because
"[c]orrections officers do not have the same privileges
and responsibilities as officers assigned to narcotics."
Thomas resigned. Schexnayder accepted an assignment providing
security at the courthouse. Bordelon was not reassigned and
remained a narcotics officer until his employment with the
SJBPSO ended in May 2015.
August 2015, Thomas filed a Charge of Discrimination against
Sheriff Tragre with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission ("EEOC") alleging racial discrimination,
disparate treatment and constructive discharge stemming from
Sheriff Tragre's decision to transfer Thomas to the
corrections department. The EEOC issued a Right to Sue letter
to Thomas on April 19, 2016.
Randle sued Sheriff Tragre, Thomas, Schexnayder, Chappel,
Bordelon, and other SJBPSO deputies in the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
alleging, among other things, that they violated his right
guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the
United States to be free from the use of excessive force.
Randle's claims against Thomas and Schexnayder were tried
before a jury in December 2015. The jury found that neither
Thomas nor Schexnayder violated Randle's constitutional
rights by subjecting him to excessive force that "was
the cause-in-fact and the proximate cause of the injury for
which [Randle] sought to recover." The jury declined to
find that Thomas or Schexnayder "committed an assault
and/or battery on [Randle] and that such assault and/or
battery was the cause-in-fact and the proximate cause of the
injury for which [Randle sought] to recover." Sometime
after the trial Sheriff Tragre promoted Schexnayder to the
rank he held prior to being moved to the courthouse, assigned
him to central investigations and gave him back pay and
benefits from the date that he was moved to the courthouse.
alleges that he twice "reached out" to Sheriff
Tragre to ask about reinstatement with back pay and benefits,
but Sheriff Tragre has not responded. Thomas filed another
Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC against Sheriff Tragre
this time alleging retaliation for Sheriff Tragre's
refusing to rehire Thomas after he filed his initial ...