After pleading guilty to assaulting a pre-trial detainee at the Iberia Parish Jail, David Prejean, a former Sergeant in the K-9 Unit of the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office (IPSO), was sentenced Monday to serve 30 months in federal prison followed by one year of supervised release. In addition to writing a false report after the incident to justify the assault, Prejean was caught on surveillance video repeatedly striking the compliant detainee while ordering his police dog to bite him for no apparent reason.
On December 6, 2012, Prejean was called to the Iberia Parish Jail to assist with a shakedown with his police dog. According to Prejean, a pre-trial detainee named Marcus Robicheaux looked at the sergeant after he had been ordered not to.
But according to Robicheaux, he was standing with his hands on his head and his nose pressed against the wall of the recreation yard along with several other prisoners as correctional officers conducted a search for contraband when Prejean suddenly pulled him from the wall and threw him to the ground. In the video, Robicheaux remained on the floor submissively protecting his head with his hands as Prejean’s dog began to bite him.
Despite the fact that Robicheaux did not appear to fight back, Prejean abruptly started punching the detainee and kicking him while the dog continued biting Robicheaux’s arms and torso for several seconds. Prejean’s unlawful use of force resulted in injury to the inmate. Following the assault, Prejean wrote false report designed to cover up his unjustified use of force by claiming that Robicheaux had resisted his commands and attempted to punch his dog.
“I couldn’t do nothing but scream,” recalled Robicheaux during an interview with The Acadiana Advocate in 2015. “The inmates couldn’t do nothing to help me.”
In 2014, Robicheaux pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine and was sentenced to five years probation with credit for time served. In January 2015, Prejean was fired after police officials finally reviewed the footage of the incident.
On February 21, Prejean pleaded guilty to assaulting Robicheaux at the Iberia Parish Jail by commanding his K-9 to bite the detainee, and by striking the detainee, all without justification. On Monday, Prejean was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison and one year of supervised release for violating Robicheaux’s civil rights.
“Law enforcement officers face danger in the field every day protecting the rights and safety of those in our communities,” said U.S. Attorney David Joseph of the Western District of Louisiana. “It is necessary that they follow the laws they are sworn to protect. Our district takes violations of the law seriously and will hold those accountable those who ignore those laws, especially those who tasked with their enforcement.”
“The United States Constitution protects all individuals, including those who are incarcerated,” stated John Gore, the Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will uphold the rule of law and aggressively prosecute any violation of an inmate’s civil rights.”
“FBI New Orleans vigorously investigates all credible allegations of civil rights violations, including those who are incarcerated,” asserted FBI New Orleans Division Special Agent in Charge Eric Rommal. “Violations of one’s civil rights will not be tolerated.”