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US judge throws out suit against Louisiana trooper

September 16, 2019

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit accusing a Louisiana state police trooper of excessive force during an arrest in New Orleans’ French Quarter.

The Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate reports that U.S. District Judge Wendy Vitter ruled that Zachary Terrell forfeited his excessive force claim by pleading guilty to resisting arrest.

Terrell’s suit accused trooper Troy Pichon of hitting him with a stun gun that knocked him off a bike and stomping his face during a drug arrest in June 2017.

Terrell pleaded guilty to charges including possession of heroin and resisting an officer, but later sued claiming excessive force.

Vitter did not get into the issue of whether Pichon attacked Terrell, as the latter claimed. She dismissed Terrell’s case last week without proceeding to trial, finding that his lawsuit was fatally undermined by his claim in a deposition that he did not resist arrest at all.

In a statement, Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Kevin Reeves said he appreciated the judge’s ruling and expressed pride in state troopers.

“Our troopers in the French Quarter do tremendous work alongside our partners with the New Orleans Police Department. It is a mission that can be challenging and dangerous,” Reeves said.

A criminal justice advocacy group in New Orleans brought the suit and said it is considering an appeal.

“Mr. Terrell biked away from the trooper who wanted to question him,” said Jim Craig, director of the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center. “But that act did not give the trooper a blank check to use excessive force or to use any force after resistance had stopped.”

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