Parish: East Feliciana

Police Department: Jackson Police Department

Court: United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana

The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana and King & Spalding LLP represented Craig White in a civil rights lawsuit against the Town of Jackson, Louisiana; the Jackson Police Department; the Chief of Police Fred Allen; and Officer Travis Clay Depew. 

Mr. White’s complaint described how, on August 6, 2020, Officer Depew conducted a traffic stop of Mr. White for no legitimate reason. Mr. White believes the traffic stop was pretext—the real reason behind the stop was that he was racially profiled, pulled over because Officer Depew knew 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, 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, slammed his head and shoulder into the asphalt street, and caused him significant injuries. As a result of Officer Depew’s excessive force, Mr. White has suffered significant emotional distress, as well as lasting headaches, shoulder pain, and an eye injury. 

The complaint charged Officer Depew with using excessive force in violation of Mr. White’s Fourth Amendment rights and with various state claims, including assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The complaint sought damages for the physical and emotional harm that Mr. White suffered from the use of excessive force against him.

The complaint also exposed multiple severe 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. Moreover, as the complaint demonstrated, before being employed by the Jackson Police Department, he had been arrested, charged with stalking, and fired from a previous 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 sought damages for the Town of Jackson’s negligent hiring.

On August 9, 2022, this case was dismissed as the parties agreed to settle the case. 

The defendants in the lawsuit were:

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

Stay Informed