Police Department: Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, Cooley LLP, and Aaron & Gianna, PLC are representing Kenner resident Frances Tapps in a lawsuit against Randolph “Randy” McClendon, a former Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office (JPSO) deputy; Joseph P. Lopinto, the Sheriff of Jefferson Parish; and HUM Management, LLC, Ms. Tapps’ former landlord.
On January 7, 2021, McClendon, dressed in his sheriff’s department uniform, parked his marked patrol car on the street of Ms. Tapps’ Kenner home. At the time, Ms. Tapps was eight months pregnant. McClendon approached Ms. Tapps’ home, began pounding on her front door and window, and announced that he had been sent by Ms. Tapps’ landlord—whom he described as his “partner”—to collect her keys because she was behind on rent. As McClendon spoke, he kept his hand on his partially holstered gun. Despite all appearances, McClendon had no legal authority to evict Ms. Tapps. Her landlord, HUM Management, had not commenced an eviction proceeding, and there was a federal eviction moratorium in effect.
After McClendon returned to his patrol car, Ms. Tapps decided to go to her mother’s nearby home. Ms. Tapps walked to her driveway, quickly put her son in the back seat of her car, got into the car, and started the vehicle. Just as she started to pull out of her driveway, McClendon swerved his patrol car to block her driveway and only exit. Ms. Tapps got out of her vehicle and began filming McClendon, who claimed that he was at her home as a “private citizen.”
Ms. Tapps ultimately called the local police on McClendon. When the responding officer arrived on the scene, McClendon threatened to take Ms. Tapps to jail. The Kenner police officer quickly confirmed that there was no basis to evict Ms. Tapps or to arrest her. The officer later recommended that Ms. Tapps report the incident to JPSO and file a formal complaint against McClendon. Ms. Tapps filed a formal complaint the next day and was told that McClendon had a history of misconduct and would face discipline.
Just four days after the incident with McClendon, Ms. Tapps went into premature labor. In addition, Ms. Tapps has experienced severe physiological, emotional, and psychological harms as a result of the incident.
While the consequences for Ms. Tapps were devastating, McClendon was allowed to resign while under investigation, paving the way for a future return to work as a law enforcement officer with JPSO or another department.
The lawsuit asserts violations of Ms. Tapps’ Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement officers and related state-law claims. The suit also asserts a claim against Sheriff Lopinto for negligent hiring, retention, and supervision, and seeks to hold Ms. Tapps former landlord, HUM Management, vicariously liable for McClendon’s tortious conduct.
The defendants in this case are:
- Randolph “Randy” McClendon, a former JPSO deputy
- Joseph P. Lopinto III, in his official capacity as Sheriff of Jefferson Parish
- HUM Management, LLC, Ms. Tapps’ former landlord