A video posted to YouTube this week provides yet another example of American law enforcement run amok. It shows a Louisiana sheriff’s deputy forcing his way into a private residence and arresting an occupant for “resisting an officer” after apparently threatening to shoot the young man in the head.
After forcing his way across the threshold of Eric Banegas’ home, the Louisiana Parish Sheriff’s deputy pushed the man’s friend, 26-year-old Donrell Breaux, across the room onto a couch.
“Look what you are doing… you’re scaring me,” Breaux said as the officer forced his way into the home.
The officer then informed the young man, “You’re under arrest.”
Banegas videoed the encounter as the officer became increasingly belligerent and refused to tell either of the men why he was arresting Breaux.
“He didn’t do anything,” Benegas told the officer after the man entered his home.
“Wait,” the obviously shocked Benegas continued. “How’re you going to arrest somebody… you didn’t, you didn’t give him no reason… about what… what are you arresting him for?”
“Get outta here,” the deputy barked. “I’m not talkin’ to you.”
“This is my house, though,” Benegas countered.
The officer went on to say something about recording before turning his attention back to Breaux, who, in terrified tones, continued to ask why the situation had so rapidly escalated.
“Sir, what is your name?” Breaux asked.
“I’m not answering to you; you can answer to me,” the deputy said as he continued to pin the young man to the couch. The officer went on to say that Breaux was under arrest for “resisting an officer.”
Benegas, likely realizing the incredible danger of facing an armed intruder whose violence is sanctioned by the State, told his friend to surrender to the officer.
“D, D just let him go,” he said.
“Son, he’s trying to take me to jail. For what?” Breaux said. “I am scared, son.”
As he continued to ask for an explanation of why he was pinned to the couch by a man who had flagrantly violated the 4th Amendment and attacked him in a private home, Breaux noticed the deputy reaching for something on his belt.
“Do not shoot me. Please don’t shoot me,” Breaux exclaimed.
At that point, the scene became chaotic and the young man’s pleas grew increasingly frantic. However, a careful listen to the audio of the fray reveals what appears to be a shocking response from the officer: “[I’ll] shoot you in the head.”
“Please, please do not shoot me. Do not shoot me, sir,” Breaux exclaimed as the officer’s radio made an audible beep. “… Oh my god, please don’t shoot me, bro.”
“It’s just a radio,” the deputy said.
“Yeah, it’s just a radio,” Breaux said. “I’m, I’m fucking scared right now. I’m scared, I’ll do whatever you ask. But why are you attacking me?”
At that point, another officer arrived on the scene with the usual “stop resisting” chorus and the video fades to black.
Breaux was taken into custody by the duo and booked into the local jail on charges of resisting arrest with violence, battery of a police officer, disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace.
In an interview with NOLA.com, the young man gave his version of events leading to the arrest.
Breaux, who has been residing at his friend’s Marmandie Avenue home since December, said that the two were on the front porch of the residence cracking jokes, which he admitted included some profane language. That’s when he said a neighbor walked over and told them to watch their language before threatening to call the police.
“He threatens to call the police all the time about stuff in the backyard and stuff going on inside the house. Things like there’s too many cars in the driveway,” Breaux told a reporter.
He said the officer, who he alleges is a friend of the neighbor, arrived about 10 minutes later.
“Then, he’s grabbing my hoodie with handcuffs out. He said, ‘Let me see some ID,’ and grabs my wrist and says, ‘You’re under arrest,’ at the same time,” Breaux said. “I thought it was unlawful.”
“I knew he was a personal friend [of the neighbor],” the man also told the reporter, “and I thought it was an unlawful arrest. I don’t have to submit to an unlawful arrest.”
Personal Liberty’s effort to contact the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office to learn the identity of the officer in the video as well as his account of events yielded no comment from officials.
Public information officer Col. John Fortunato said that the department is currently reviewing the evidence and will release a statement on the department website.
Asked if, based solely on the video evidence, there was any reason to believe that the officer involved acted inappropriately, Fortunato responded, “As I said, it’s under review.”
Meanwhile, Breaux said he is seeking an attorney to combat what he sees as an outright abuse of power.
“These are personal friends,” he told local media. “I wish I had friends that I could call and have them handle personal vendettas that I have with my neighbors.”
And though he said a lack of money is going to make it tough to find representation, Breaux believes that the video evidence gives him a pretty good case against the department.
“I’m pretty pissed about the situation,” he said. “I feel this is wrong because they do this all the time and nobody ever has it on video. I feel it’s a problem with the police and people not knowing their rights.”
Post Deadline Update
On Thursday evening, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office issued the following statement regarding Breaux’s arrest:
Thursday, April 03, 2014 04:47 PM
This email is in response to the inquiries we received relative to a video that was posted on Facebook yesterday.
On March 30, 2014, around 2:50 PM, our 911 Center received a call from a citizen who resides in the 200 block of Marmandie Avenue in River Ridge. The complainant told the operator he needed the police because a black male subject at 207 Marmandie was cursing at him. When the Fourth District officer arrived on scene he met with the complainant who once again repeated what he told the 911 operator. He continued telling the officer that he and his wife were sitting outside of their home with their children when their attention was drawn to their neighbor’s home at 207 Marmandie. It was there, the complainant reported hearing the individuals using profanities. He also believed he could smell the odor of marijuana coming from the area where the individuals were standing. After asking the men numerous times to stop cursing in front of he and his wife, one of the men, described as a black male began directing profanity laced sentences specifically at the both he, his wife and children. He continued by saying he felt threatened at that time, thus, he chose to call 911. The complainant expressed his desire to pursue charges against the black male who cursed at he and his family. He then directed the officer to the area where the male subjects were standing.
Based on the initial findings, and the fact that the complainant/witness wanted to pursue charges on the suspect, our officer’s intention was to issue him a misdemeanor summons. As the officer approached the subjects, he too could smell the odor of marijuana. The officer requested identification from Don Rell Breaux. He was told by Breaux that he had none, however, he might have an ID inside. As the officer walked with Breaux towards the door he told him he was under arrest. As the officer followed him into the doorway with his handcuffs in hand, Breaux attempted to close the door on the officer. The officer continued into the home where a brief struggle ensued. The officer did in fact tell the suspect he was under arrest for resisting an officer, as indicated in the video. Breaux was eventually placed in handcuffs and taken into custody.
Don Rell Breaux was booked with disturbing the peace by cursing, resisting arrest and battery on a police officer.
Don Rell Breaux has a prior criminal history with an arrests for: Terroristic Threats & Acts at a school in Georgia, Reckless Conduct, Manufacturing, Distribution & Possession of Marijuana, Simple Criminal Damage to Property and a Probation Violation.