Louisiana Sheriff’s office in brutality settlement

April 10, 2017

Bryce Hemstad, an ex-inmate of St. Tammany Parish, settled out of court with the Sheriff’s Office reference an assault case involving a deputy accused of brutality in March 2017. Hemsted’s attorney, Stephen Haedicke, would not release the details of the settlement but divulged that the confidential agreement would be completed within a few weeks. The Sheriff’s Office gave no immediate response to a request for a statement concerning the compromise. After the settlement had been reached, U.S. District Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon dismissed Hemstad’s lawsuit.

On October 19, 2016, Hemstad, an inmate in St. Charles Parish’s Nelson Coleman Correctional Center, filed to sue the St. Tammany Sheriff’s Office for police brutality in federal court in New Orleans. The suit stated that on November 27, 2015, Deputy Joseph Hart removed Hemstad from his dormitory, walked him down a hallway while cursing at him and forced him to handcuff himself to a bench. Then, former deputy Timothy Hooker placed Hemstad in a headlock, sprayed him with pepper spray and punched him in the face several times, damaging his teeth, jaw and face. Hemstad claimed he was left to suffer for nearly an hour while still handcuffed to the bench.

The lawsuit also named Deputy Joseph Hart and former Deputy John Favaloro. Hemstad asserted that the pair witnessed the incident but did nothing to prevent the allegedly unprovoked attack. Two other named defendants included Sheriff Randy Smith, former Sheriff Jack Strain and the Sheriff’s Office Insurer.

Hooker, arrested on separate charges in December 2015, was fired by the Sheriff’s Office for allegedly striking another inmate while removing him from the jail’s eating area for not complying with mealtime procedures. Hooker will stand trial concerning the incident.

Within the last 12 years, Hemstad has taken a guilty plea to various charges in St. Tammany which include illegal possession of a firearm, aggravated assault, harassment by telephone, burglary, unlawful possession of the prescription pain medicine oxycodone, and maintaining a methamphetamine lab.

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