JEFFERSON PARISH, La. – The man accused of gunning down a Jefferson Parish deputy last year has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against more than two-dozen other officers, alleging excessive force during his arrest that resulted in several injuries and partial blindness in one eye.
The suit was filed Thursday by attorney Willard J. Brown Sr. a year to the day after Jerman Neveaux allegedly gunned down Deputy David Michel after the two had a brief fight on Manhattan Boulevard in Harvey.
Deputies found Neveaux, 20, hiding in the backyard of a nearby home a short time later.
The lawsuit mentions a cellphone video, recorded by a neighbor, which was broadcast on WVUE-TV, but blurred out the deputies’ faces.
The suit claims that in parts of the video that were not aired, Neveaux “raised his hand(s) and began to lay on the ground” after deputies approached him with their guns drawn.
At that point, the suit alleges, “several officers began to kick and beat him.”
While the officers walked Neveaux through a home, “one of the deputies slammed the plaintiff’s face against the corner of a table causing severe lacerations to his face and eye.”
The suit claims he suffered “nerve damage, mental anguish, disfigurement and partial blindness in the right eye.”
Officers acted with “willful and wanton indifference to and disregard to (Neveaux’s) Constitutional rights.”
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Neveaux has been in a wheelchair for each appearance at court, apparently due to a spinal injury he suffered during his arrest.
The suit asks for a jury trial to determine damages, along with legal costs and interest, and seeks to hold JPSO deputies liable for Neveaux’s medical and other expenses.
The suit also includes two previously unreleased photos of Neveaux’s swollen, bloody face that were taken a little while after his arrest. It also includes for comparative purposes a mugshot from a prior arrest that included no injuries and the mugshot from his arrest after Michel's killing that shows his face bruised and swollen.
The Sheriff’s Office on Friday afternoon declined to comment on the lawsuit.
The suit names 28 individual deputies, more than were captured on video, and does not specify who struck Neveaux.
Defendants are: Sgt. Christy Clement, Sgt. Julio Avarado, Det. George Kister, Dep. Joseph Ragas, Sgt. Frank Renaudin, Det. Blake Hollifield, Det. Todd Rivere, Det. Derek Green, Maj. Michael Dupuis, Sgt. Travis Eserman, Det. Melvin Francis, Sgt. Marlo Bruno, Sgt. Rodney Naumann, Col. John Fortunato, Det. William Roniger, Sgt. Mark Layrisson, Dep. Nathanial Obiol, Det. Adrian Thompson, Det. Stephen Villere, Dep. Eric Hymel, Sgt. Gary Barteet, Det. Donald Zanotelli, Sgt. Thomas Gai, Lt. Elvin Modica, Det. Michael Schmitt, Det. Robert Miles, Det. Jean Lincoln and Dep. Sean Whalen.
The Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office has said it will seek the death penalty against Neveaux.
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