Police Department: Lafayette Police Department
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, Kelley Drye & Warren, and Miller Nash LLP are representing Tara Fogleman-Laxey in a civil rights action against several city officials of Lafayette, including the mayor, sheriff, and police officers involved in her arrest.
Ms. Fogleman-Laxey’s complaint describes how she was wrongfully arrested after peacefully exercising her First Amendment right to protest against the unjust circumstances surrounding the killing of Mr. Trayford Pellerin. This protest is intensely personal for Ms. Fogleman-Laxey as she is a mother of a Black son and a proud resident of the Lafayette community. She fears every day that her son could be killed by police officers in Lafayette.
On August 29, 2020, Ms. Fogleman-Laxey hosted a small community barbeque in front of Mayor Josh Guillory’s home in the hopes of offering an opportunity for the mayor to speak with residents to address the rising racial tensions in the community. Ms. Fogleman-Laxey live streamed the event so that thousands of people around the world could participate in the protest. Instead of talking to Ms. Fogleman-Laxey directly, Mayor Guillory ordered the police to arrest her. Indeed instead of issuing a traffic ticket for allegedly obstructing traffic, the police arrested her, handcuffed her, conducted an unnecessary and intrusive strip search, and made Ms. Fogleman-Laxey sit in prison in the midst of a global pandemic despite knowing about her pre-existing conditions that made her especially vulnerable to COVID-19.
Ms. Fogleman-Laxey did not receive any charges until she spoke against Mayor Guillory five months later criticizing his COVID-19 policies. The judge assigned to her criminal case immediately dismissed the charges and noted that the District Attorney was wrong for improperly bringing “politics into [the judge’s] court.” Even though she did nothing wrong, Ms. Fogleman-Laxey now suffers from intense mental anguish, physical injuries, and reputational loss. She continues to take medication for these issues and is essentially homebound due to her fear of city officials’ retribution. Ms. Fogleman-Laxey no longer protests or participates in the community.
The defendants in the case are:
- Josh Guillory, Mayor of Lafayette
- Lafayette Consolidated Government
- Scott Morgan, Interim Police Chief of the Lafayette Police Department
- Mark Garber, Sheriff of Lafayette Parish
- Donald Landry, District Attorney
- Police Officer Jon and Jane Does