Parish: East Feliciana

Police Department(s): Jackson Police Department

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

Ms. Harveston’s Complaint describes how, on November 4, 2020, she was driving normally with her seven-year-old daughter in the rear seat when a Jackson Police Officer, Officer Travis Clay Depew, pulled her over for no reason.  Ms. Harveston believes Officer Depew stopped her that night because he wanted to wield power over and sexually harass her.

After she stopped her vehicle and as she waited for Officer Depew to approach, Ms. Harveston retrieved her driver’s license and registration.  She put them in her hand and dangled them out the window.  After asking Ms. Harveston why she was speeding up and down the road – which was untrue – Officer Depew asked her to exit her vehicle.  Ms. Harveston complied after telling her seven-year-old daughter to remain in the back seat.  Then, without warning, Officer Depew came up behind Ms. Harveston, and, without her consent and reasonable suspicion or probable cause, she grabbed and squeezed her breasts.  Shortly thereafter, Officer Depew violently grabbed her, told her to stop resisting arrest (even though she was not), and violently slammed her to the ground, causing injuries to her knees, legs, arms, and hands.  Officer Depew then placed Ms. Harveston under arrest, handcuffed her, and moved her toward the open rear door of his squad car, where he further injured her by choking her and slamming the car door against her legs.

As a result of Officer Depew’s sexual assault and excessive force, Ms. Harveston has experienced physical, economic, and emotional harm, including depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness.  The Complaint charges Officer Depew with using excessive force in violation of Ms. Harveston’s Fourth Amendment rights and various state claims, including assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.  The Complaint seeks damages for the physical and emotional harm that Ms. Harveston suffered from the use of excessive force and the sexual assault committed against her.

The complaint also exposes the 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.  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, 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 and inappropriate supervision of Officer Depew.

On April 19, 2023, the judge officially dismissed this suit as the parties reached a settlement. 

The defendants named in the lawsuit were:

•           Officer Travis Clay Depew

•           Chief of Police Fred Allen

•           Jackson Police Department

•           Town of Jackson

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