In Louisiana, Threatening to File a Complaint Against Police Can Lead to a Five-Year Prison Sentence

“The right to criticize the police without risk of arrest distinguishes a democracy from a police state.”

 

It looks like Louisiana is not doing much to mitigate the stereotype associated with Louisiana cops. There is a reason why New Orleans is often called the northernmost Caribbean city and it’s not just because of its food and music.

(From In Justice Today)

On April 30, 2015, William Aubin Jr. was at home with his wife in Livingston Parish, Louisiana when a patrol car from the sheriff’s office pulled onto his street. The deputy, William Durkin, was there to investigate a reckless driving complaint. Aubin wasn’t involved in the incident but he knew about it and went outside of his home to speak with Durkin. During a vulgar and combative conversation, according to Aubin, Durkin repeatedly called Aubin a “pussy.”

“I’m calling your supervisor,” Aubin said. “I’m gonna get you fired.” Aubin took out his cell phone, called the sheriff’s department, and started walking back towards his house. But before he made it inside, Durkin arrested him. The charge: intimidation of a public official — a felony that in Louisiana carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment.

So just to be clear, the guy was not involved in the incident but insulted the investigating cop somehow and then said he was going to complain to the cop’s superior. And then the guy, the bystander, was arrested? FOR A FELONY? OK, that’s not crazy or anything.

“Ultimately the case is, can you threaten to do something lawful and go to jail for it, or is that protected by the first amendment,” Loughlin said. “That’s what this comes down to.”