CASE #31 – Bledsoe v. Willis et al. (WDLA)

Parish: Caddo

Police Department: Shreveport Police Department

The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana and BakerHostetler are representing Gregory James Bledsoe, against employees from the Shreveport Police Department and Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office.

On August 4, 2015, an officer with the Shreveport Police Department responded to reports of an alleged burglary of a residence. The officer observed a broken window in the front door window and lifted fingerprints from around the property. Three days later, the same officer was called back to the property due to discovery of a small splatch of blood on or around the front door by the resident that neither the resident nor the officer had observed during the first visit by the officer. A blood sample was collected and later determined to be a match to Gregory Bledsoe. Thereafter, a detective with the Shreveport Police Department was tasked with continuing the investigation and confirmed with the resident of the property that she did not know Mr. Bledsoe and never gave him permission to enter the property.

The Shreveport Police Department personnel never determined the ownership status of the property or that the front door window had been repaired in the time between the first and second visits to the property. Had they inquired, they would have learned that the resident was a rental tenant, the property owner had contracted with a property management company that had permission to make repairs at the property, and that Mr. Bledsoe had been an independent contractor associated with the property management company for a number of years and was tasked with repairing the front door window at the property after the alleged burglary. In repairing the window, Mr. Bledsoe cut himself on glass, explaining the newly discovered blood evidence.

Based solely on the blood evidence, the Shreveport officers submitted an affidavit for an arrest warrant for simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling. The warrant was issued that same day.

Mr. Bledsoe was arrested, pleaded not guilty, and was released on bond.  After release, Mr. Bledsoe obtained documents from the property management company demonstrating that he was authorized to be at property to repair the broken window. These documents were filed in response to the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office motion for discovery on October 5, 2017. On June 2, 2020, nearly five years after they were collected, a Caddo Parish Assistant District Attorney inquired as to the results of the fingerprints lifted from the property. On June 3, 2020, an officer with the Shreveport Police Department confirmed that the prints were non-identifiable.

Notwithstanding the exculpatory evidence and lack of affirmative evidence, the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office continued its prosecution of Mr. Bledsoe, offering him numerous plea deals. Mr. Bledsoe declined all of the offers. The Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office’s push for Mr. Bledsoe to plead guilty was part of a policy, practice, and/or custom of the Office, implemented from the highest levels of the Office.

Realizing that Mr. Bledsoe had called their bluff, on the day of trial the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office filed an amended bill of information dropping the felony simple burglary charge and replacing it with two misdemeanor charges, criminal trespass and misdemeanor theft. At the close of evidence, the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office admitted that it had failed to prove misdemeanor theft. A day after taking the criminal trespass charge under advisement, the judge found Mr. Bledsoe not guilty.

The defendants in this case are:

  • Dean Willis, Sergeant of the Shreveport Police Department
  • David McClure, Officer of the Shreveport Police Department
  • Brittany B. Arvie, Assistant District Attorney in the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office
  • James E. Stewart, Sr., District Attorney of Caddo Parish

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