Acadia Parish family sues Crowley PD
Theresa Richard wants answers.
A house fire claimed the life of her daughter and twenty three-month old grand-daughter on June 7, 2012 in Crowley.
The cinders of what remains of her tragic loss has resulted in a lawsuit against three individuals in their official capacity within the Crowley Police Department: Chief of Police Kelly P. Gibson, Officer Tammy Mallett and Officer John Doe.
According to the lawsuit, the three Crowley Police officials are being sued for Richard’s allegations of false arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.
Richard said that the lawsuit against the Crowley Police Department stemmed from her “wrongful arrest”, or “wrongful detainment”, and “illegal incarceration”– which involved Richard being allegedly forbidden to leave her residence by Crowley Police Department officers.
Richard said that initially the house-fire left her daughter’s rent home partially burned with many personal effects still in tact, such as wall-hanging photographs and major appliances.
Before dealing with the funeral arrangements in Lake Charles, came the recommendation of the unnamed Fire Marshall that a safe–which remained in partially burned house– be removed, according to Richard and the lawsuit.
The Fire Marshall and other Crowley Police Department officials then left the scene of the fire as in-laws and relatives of Richard arrived at the residence to retrieve the safe and other belongings later that afternoon, according to Richard.
Richard was then made aware that her husband, Mitchell, and brother, Christopher Hargrave, were “being arrested” after leaving the partially burned house.
According to the lawsuit, Mr. Richard (Theresa’s husband) and Hargrave (Theresa’s brother) were being falsely accused of “stealing” the safe by Crowley police officers.
Because Richard’s home was within the same neighborhood, her husband and brother were rolling the safe on a dolly to her house when police arrived at Richard’s home.
The female officer on the scene, Officer Tammy Mallett, allegedly told Theresa Richard to “shut up” and allegedly ordered Theresa back into her home, threatening her with arrest if she exited the residence.
Officer Mallet allegedly took out her handcuffs and threatened arrest is Richard did not comply, according to the court documents.
Theresa Richard’s family members– who allegedly witnessed this action– escorted her back into her home.
Theresa Richard then called the Crowley Police Department and the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Her phone calls proved futile.
After calling the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office, Theresa Richard said that she allegedly heard Officer Mallet outside of her home yelling to her inside the house to stop calling the Sheriff’s Office because “they weren’t coming”, according to the lawsuit.
Shortly after, Theresa Richard was arrested.
Richard’s lawyer based out of Baton Rouge, S. Stephen Spring, claimed that Richard was “battered and taken into custody” and that the “officer defendants seized her person without lawful cause”, according to the lawsuit documentation.
The lawsuit further contends that the actions of the Crowley Police Department officials was “extreme and outrageous” and resulted in Theresa Richard to suffer “severe emotional distress”– which was compounded by the recent loss of her daughter and her baby granddaughter.
On June 17th, Richard said that she hired two men to accompany her to remove the washer and dryer units from the charred rent house. This resulted in a Crowley Police official arriving on the scene and subjecting Richard to what she claimed was “harassment”. Richard said that the officer– who yelled at her to “shut-up” and “calm down” without arresting her or making her leave the premises.
Richard said that she wanted an investigation into the cause of the fire–which has yet to be determined, according to Richard.
However, the case was closed when the landlord, Harvey Trahan, had the remainder of the house demolished with all personal effects remaining in the fire-damaged home.
Richard gave a statement regarding the lawsuit.
“We are very disappointed in the lack of accountability surrounding the events of June 7, and June 17, 2012,” she said in a written email statement. “We have filed these lawsuits in an attempt to correct the serious mistakes made by CPD [sic]. We continue to experience ongoing harassment by CPD[sic] officers who seem more interested in covering up their mistakes rather than correcting them. We look forward to a conclusion to this issue and hope that it will bring about positive changes in policy at CPD[sic] to prevent this outrageous behavior from affecting another grieving family.”
Attempts to reach Crowley Police Department officials and S. Stephen Spring, the legal counsel for Richard in the matter, proved fruitless as they could not be reached for comment on the matter.
Richard has since pursued a writ of mandamus– which Richard said was a public information request– within the 15th Judicial District Court in Acadia Parish.
Richard claimed a small victory by default in the mandamus matter as Chief Gibson and the city attorney did not attend the hearing.
The court, upon Richard’s motion for a preliminary default against Chief Gibson, granted a preliminary default against Chief Gibson on November 8, 2013.