The New Orleans Advocate
BY SARA PAGONES
JUL 6, 2018
On Jan. 21, Cambre posted on social media that he was struggling. When friends began calling him, he didn't answer the phone, prompting someone to call the Pearl River police and request a check on his welfare. Jessica Picasso, a Pearl River officer, and a paramedic with St. Tammany Fire Protection District No. 11 responded to the call, the suit says, and tried to convince Cambre to go to the hospital.
Army veteran Chris Cambre, who says he was beaten by St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's deputies during a welfare check in January, is shown the following day with a facial laceration.Chris Cambre, an Iraq War veteran who claims he was severely beaten by St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office deputies in January, has filed a federal lawsuit claiming his civil rights were violated by excessive use of force and an unauthorized search of his Pearl River home.
Photo provided by Chris Cambre
The suit, filed Thursday, names Sheriff Randy Smith and five deputies individually. But it also names Smith in his official capacity, alleging he showed deliberate indifference to civil rights by failing to adequately train officers and commanders or discipline them. It also accuses the Sheriff's Office of covering up misconduct.
The suit alleges that the same culture at the Sheriff's Office and such violations existed before Smith took office two years ago.
The situation changed, according to the lawsuit, when the Sheriff's Office sent deputies at the request of Assistant Fire Chief Matt Parrish. A Pearl River incident report, not cited in the lawsuit, says Parrish had instructed a dispatcher to send backup because of Cambre's military training and prior comments he had made about committing "suicide by cop."Cambre was taken to a local hospital by an ambulance, but none of the deputies accompanied him, the suit says, even though Picasso told them she was the only officer on duty in Pearl River that night.
When deputies arrived at Cambre's trailer home they had their rifles drawn, the suit says, but they secured them in Picasso's police unit after Cambre showed that he was not armed.
None of the deputies asked Picasso to brief them or asked her if Cambre was being aggressive, the suit alleges.