Criminal justice professor says teacher arrest likely illegal, unconstitutional

Criminal justice professor says teacher arrest likely illegal, unconstitutional

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) - A law enforcement professor who trains police officers believes a Vermilion Parish teacher's arrest was unconstitutional and illegal.

That's what Dr. Steve Thompson concludes from the videos made public so far. The agency whose officer made the arrest is asking for an independent investigation.

The viral video has been viewed millions of times...and not everyone sees it the same. One who finds it an outrage is Dr. Thompson, who teaches criminal justice and trains officers.

While Thompson admits all the facts aren't in, so far he concludes the arrest is illegal and unconstitutional.

"I would characterize the arrest as unconstitutionally valid, an illegal arrest without probable cause," he said.

First, Thompson believes the deputy marshal went beyond his authority.

"I don't believe he had any lawful authority to tell her to leave," he said.

Thompson thinks the board president in charge of the meeting would have to tell her to leave.

"When they wanted her to leave, all they had to do was say, 'You must leave.' And if she didn't leave at that point, it's time for law enforcement involvement," said Thompson. "No law was violated, that I could see on that video, and the officer took it upon himself to order her to leave which was, in my opinion, not a lawful order. I mean, do we really want law enforcement out there booting people from public buildings if they say something in a manner that they don't like?"

Plus, Thompson thinks the teacher complied with the marshal's command, so he doesn't think she resisted.

"Within less than a minute she was out of the room," he said.

Thompson also considers it improper for the marshal to have threatened a bystander who can be heard on the video saying she was going to call the sheriff.

"Somebody else is about to get arrested," said the deputy marshal as he was standing next to his car with teacher Deyshia Hargrave. He was waiting for another Abbeville Police car to arrive to transport her to the police station.

"The officer threatened to arrest a bystander for public intimidation. That is a felony. So, essentially, what the officer is saying is, if you threaten to call my boss, because you don't like what I am doing, say to file a complaint, I'm going to arrest you for a felony of public intimidation. That is absolutely not public intimidation," said Thompson.

The Abbeville City Marshal wants a third party to do an independent investigation of the incident. In his news release, Marshal Jeremiah Bolden doesn't say if he's asked a specific agency to do such an investigation. State Police say they have not been asked to investigate.

Until such an investigation is done, Bolden says there will be no comment from his office.

Copyright 2018 KPLC. All rights reserved.