Parish: St. Charles

Police Department: St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office

The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, along with Kuchler Polk Weiner LLC, are representing Mr. Cedric Otkins Jr. in a civil rights action against several officers from the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Mr. Otkins’ complaint describes how, on July 1, 2020 he was unreasonably detained and his vehicle illegally searched.  Mr. Otkins stopped to use a public park restroom in Destrehan, LA when St. Charles Parish Sheriff Sergeant Jack Gilboy approached Mr. Otkins and accused him of being in the park after “curfew.”  Sergeant Gilboy used this purported curfew violation to detain Cedric until Sheriff Deputies Barrett Pearce and William Roth arrived.  After an interaction of less than several minutes, Deputies Pearce and Roth falsely claimed that Mr. Otkins was under the influence of a substance because he looked “worn out,” “beat up,” “drowsy,” and appeared to be having “a rough day.”  Defendants Pearce and Roth then asked Mr. Otkins for consent to search his vehicle, to which Mr. Otkins refused.  Officer Joshua Deroche arrived to the scene accompanied with a purported drug-detection canine and deployed the dog to sniff the exterior of Mr. Otkins’ vehicle.  Defendants claimed the dog alerted to the presence of a narcotic. 

Mr. Otkins’ encounter with these officers culminated into a full-blown search of Mr. Otkins’ vehicle.  As a result of the illegal search, Defendants retrieved Mr. Otkins’ legally purchased firearm, a brown cigar, “green vegetable-like matter” totaling less than one-tenth of a pound, and other materials.  The District Attorney’s Office charged Mr. Otkins with a host of crimes, including drug possession, and drug possession with intent to distribute.  As a result of Defendants’ above-described actions and conduct, Mr. Otkins continues to suffer from anxiety, fear, night terrors, depression, and insomnia.

The complaint charges the four officers with violations of Mr. Otkins’ Fourth Amendment rights, as well as claims for intentional and/or negligent infliction of emotional distress.  The complaint seeks a judgment that the Defendants violated Mr. Otkins’ constitutional rights.

Defendants Sergeant Jack Gilboy, Officer Barrett Pearse, Officer William Roth, and Officer Joshua Deroche, all of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. On October 27, 2022, the court granted summary judgment in support of qualified immunity. Finding that defendants did not violate the Fourth Amendment rights of Otkins. 

Mr. Otkin’s subsequently appealed this case to the Fifth Circuit who on October 5, 2023 overturned the District Court’s ruling and reinstated the case. 

On March 25, 2024 the case went to trial in the United States Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. After two days of trial before a jury, a settlement was reached between Mr. Otkins and Officer Jack Gilboy.

The defendants named in the complaint are:

  • Jack Gilboy
  • Barrett Pearce
  • William Roth
  • Joshua Deroche

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