CASE #17 – White v. Depew et al. (MDLA (Settled))

Parish: East Feliciana

Police Department: Jackson Police Department

The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana and King & Spalding LLP are representing Craig White in a civil rights lawsuit against a police officer from the Jackson, Louisiana Police Department, as well as the Town of Jackson.

Mr. White’s complaint describes how, on August 6, 2020, he was driving normally by himself when a Jackson Police Officer, Officer Travis Claw Depew, pulled him over for no reason. Mr. White believes that he was racially profiled and that he was pulled over because Officer Depew knew that he was a Black man dating a White woman.

After asking Mr. White to provide his license and registration, Officer Depew asked Mr. White to exit the vehicle. Officer Depew then asked Mr. White, who is Black, about his significant other, who is White. Then, without warning, Officer Depew attempted to search Mr. White’s pockets without warning, without consent, and without any reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Mr. White reflexively stepped back and said “no.” Before Mr. White could do anything else, Officer Depew violently tackled Mr. White, causing Mr. White’s head and shoulder to slam into the asphalt street, and causing significant injuries.

As a result of Officer Depew’s excessive force, Mr. White has suffered significant emotional distress, and he has lasting headaches and shoulder pain, as well as an injury to his eye. The complaint charges Officer Depew with using excessive force in violation of Mr. White’s Fourth Amendment rights, as well as with various state claims including assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The complaint seeks damages for the physical and emotional harm that Mr. White suffered from the use of excessive force against him.

The complaint also exposes the multiple serious allegations of misconduct against Officer Depew, including an incident in February 2021 where Officer Depew assaulted a black teenager in the parking lot of a convenience store in Jackson, which led to Officer Depew being arrested, and placed on leave from the Jackson Police Department. However, as the complaint demonstrates, this was not Officer Depew’s first arrest. Before being employed by the Jackson Police Department, he had been arrested and charged with stalking, and fired from a prior law enforcement job. Based on this prior incident, the Jackson Police Department never should have hired Officer Depew in the first place, and the complaint seeks damages for the Town of Jackson’s negligent hiring.

The defendants in the lawsuit are:

  • Officer Travis Clay Depew
  • Chief of Police Fred Allen
  • Jackson Police Department
  • Town of Jackson

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