Gonzales Police Chief “covered up” brutality investigation allege former officers

It was an emotional Moses Black who exited Gonzales City Hall on Wednesday afternoon after the Civil Service Board refused to hear his appeal of a December 2016 termination from Gonzales PD.  Attempts to console the 20-year law enforcement veteran by attorneys who are preparing to file a federal lawsuit against Police Chief Sherman Jackson failed to assuage Black’s angst.  His appeal was not properly filed within 15 days and the Board, heeding advice of City Attorney Dwight Poirrier, declined to hear Moses Black’s case which claims he was fired because he refused to withdraw a brutality complaint against a fellow officer.

“You’re throwing my client’s career away on a technicality,” Chris Alexander pleaded with the Board.  “Regardless of your ruling today, Police Chief Jackson is in deep, deep trouble.  His actions are truly despicable and they fear the evidence we’re going to put forward.”

Putting forward that evidence will have to wait for another day, and another forum.  The Middle District of Louisiana Federal Court is the likely step once a pending EEOC claim is resolved.  Moses Black asserts that the reason given for his termination, his inquiry into excessive traffic tickets being issued pursuant to a grant program, was merely a pretext and that he was fired because he filed a report accusing brother officers of brutality.  He pushed for an investigation of the incident in which a DWI suspect, already handcuffed and lying on the PD floor, was kicked by one officer as three others “contained” him.

“Mr. Banks (the suspect) was sprayed with mace and handcuffed, laying on the floor, contained by three officer’s inside the police station causing no problems…Mr. Banks advised that he could not get up…(A fourth officer) said to Mr. Banks, “sit the f*** up” and kicked Mr. Banks twice in the rectum area like he was some kind of stray dog,” reads Black’s narrative report depicting the events of April 3, 2015.

The arresting officer who Black had assisted filed his own report which tells a different story.  It alleges the suspect used abusive language and struggled against being handcuffed.

“I was aware that Banks was under the influence of central nervous system depressant and had a history of seizures so I was hesitant to perform any central nervous system strikes on him.  I decided to meet his defensive resistance with my chemical spray, Top Cop (mace) to alter his behavior.  I then delivered a one second burst of Top Cop to Bank’s face followed by several verbal commands for him to get on the ground.  After several commands to get on the ground, I conducted a straight arm bar take down on Banks.  I placed a handcuff on Bank’s left wrist and instructed him to give me his right wrist.  Banks curled his right wrist under his chest and refused to cooperate.  I was finally able to handcuff Banks behind his back with the assistance of the (fourth officer).”

No mention is made of the suspect being kicked.

Moses Black claimed the officer who wrote the official narrative report “blatantly lied” because the suspect was already handcuffed by the writing officer before any other arrived; and Black and his partner’s presence was omitted from the narrative.

But Moses Black’s partner on the evening in question corroborated Black’s version of events verbally to Pelican Post, insisting that he “clearly witnessed Mr. Banks being kicked” twice “while handcuffed and posing no threat at all.”  There is no disagreement that Banks suffered a seizure while being doused with water to alleviate the mace sprayed in his eyes during his restraint.

Banks would die a few months later but not before filing his own written complaint.

“I had a seizure then I was down on the ground and he kick me in my ass and my ribs and I hit my head on the ground.  They pulled me near some water and started to put water all over me.  When I came too I was in the hospital and from their I went to jail.”

Pelican Post contacted Gonzales PD’s Public Information Officer who advised that Jackson would have no comment.  One of his officers did call to say that “he was familiar with the incident and everything done by GPD personnel was done “according to proper procedure and by the book.”  The matter was investigated though hindered because surveillance video of the incident was unavailable.  No further explanation was offered.

Moses Black pushed to see the matter investigated but could not persuade his superiors, including Police Chief Jackson to do so.  His version is bolstered by two other officers, both of whom took other law enforcement jobs due to the work environment instilled under Sherman Jackson’s leadership.  One of those other officers was Moses Black’s immediate superior on April 2014 and he provided a letter in support of Black (and describing serious problems within Jackson’s department).

“My name is Martin Mapp, Jr.  I am a former sergeant of the Gonzales Police Department.  I am writing this letter to inform the public and the citizens of Gonzales of possible criminal/illegal activity and the department’s cover up.

I resigned/took an early retirement so I could talk about the activity that I know has happened at the police department.  Chief Sherman Jackson has threatened every officer about talking about departmental business.  Chief Jackson has said ‘if I find out an officer is talking about departmental business, he/she will be fired.’  With that threat being said, no one still employed has spoken.

The first incident I would like to talk about would be the arrest of Michael Banks on Friday, April 3, 2015…”

Mapp’s statement goes on to verify Moses Black’s version of events before adding:

“I called my immediate supervisor, Lieutenant Glen Gonzales.  I explained to Lieutenant Gonzales what was told to me by Officers Black and McCoy.  Lieutenant Gonzales said he would talk to (them) ‘when he returned to work on Wednesday.’  Keep this in mind, the incident happened on Friday night and Lieutenant Gonzales said he was going to wait until Wednesday…I told (them) to expect to be called into the Lieutenant’s office on Wednesday morning about the incident.  Wednesday morning came and I waited several hours past 6 A.M. until I asked Officer Black if he was ever called into the Lieutenant’s office; and he said he was not called in.  Officer Black went to the Lieutenant’s office and brought up the conversation.

I do not know how long after the incident occurred, but Michael Banks filed a formal complaint at the Gonzales Police Department.  Michael Banks gave a written statement.  Assistant Chief, Leland Sykes did start an investigation…A few months later Michael Banks passed away and the investigation stopped.”

No discipline was ever meted out to “the best of (Mapp’s) knowledge” and Moses Black stressed this in asserting “a cover up.”  Mapp’s correspondence goes on to describe other incidents of misconduct before ending with this about Chief Jackson:

“Besides Chasing the Chief (a 2012 car chase by GPD of a vehicle occupied by Jackson), there is another incident involving Chief Sherman Jackson.  This incident took place somewhere between 2009-2011.  On the corner of LA 44/Burnside Avenue and Airline Highway, there was a gas station called Moe’s Discount.  The Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office narcotics division had information that Moe had a stash of some type of narcotic inside the store.

They searched the store, and the store was empty.  Then they served a search warrant at Moe’s residence, and who did they find eating dinner with Moe and his family, Chief Sherman Jackson.

If things seem pretty lax over at GPD it gets worse according to Moses Black who filed an unrelated report:

“On May 28, 2014 at 10:49 a.m. I received a group text message.  The text message was sent from a white Police Officer to several other Officers and Chief Jackson was also included on the group message.  The text was referring to a black police officer who was on light-duty in the office.  The message stated “In the best interest of the Police Dept” the picture showed a police officer with a banana in his gun holster going up the stairs.  See attached message.

Chief Jackson’s response to the text was “SMH” that is “Shaking My Head.”  The Chief being a black man, with common sense, should have known that was a racist message.  The message that it sent out was that it was okay for white officers to call black officers monkeys and that nothing would be said or done to them by Chief Jackson.”

Such activities occurred regularly Black says and “too many of my fellow officers, black and white, participated.”  Jackson did little to nothing to prevent the conduct which persisted, often degenerating into deplorably offensive texts and images.

Strangely enough, Moses Black still wants his job back.

“I’ve spent my life as a cop and I don’t know what I’m going to do now.  I feel like I had a strong case to have my termination overturned and now, I’m effectively blackballed from law enforcement,” he said, staring off into space.  “Right now I can’t even say if I’m gonna file a lawsuit.”

Black had contacted your writer without his attorneys’ knowledge or approval “because the people of Gonzales have to know what goes on under Chief Jackson’s administration.”