Police Department: Shreveport Police Department
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana and global law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP represented Mr. Brandon Kennedy in a civil-rights action against two officers of the Shreveport Police Department in their individual capacities, and Shreveport Police Chief Wayne Smith and the records custodians of the Shreveport Police Department in their official capacities.
As alleged in the complaint, on December 15, 2020, Shreveport Police officers used unnecessary and excessive force against Mr. Kennedy, a 37-year-old Black man, after one of the officers overheard Mr. Kennedy speaking to another person in a convenience store about the Black Lives Matter movement and his own negative experiences with officers of the Shreveport Police Department. In response to Mr. Kennedy’s constitutionally protected speech, the officers attacked, arrested, and searched Mr. Kennedy, before transporting him against his will to a hospital for a “mental evaluation,” where he was kept overnight. In so doing, the officers severely injured Mr. Kennedy, who today continues to suffer from resulting physical pain in his neck and back, as well as emotional scarring. Mr. Kennedy was not, and never has been, charged with a crime related to the incident. This case confirms what research across the country and this state has shown: that police gratuitously use unnecessary, excessive, and violent force against unarmed non-resisting Black men. Mr. Kennedy’s case was particularly appalling because he was brutalized for speaking out against racial injustice.
Mr. Kennedy submitted numerous public records requests to the Shreveport Police Department seeking documents related to his brutalization, as well as records related to the department’s policies and internal reporting on arrest tactics, racial profiling, use of excessive force, and other issues related to Mr. Kennedy’s claims and the claims of countless others who have been unjustly injured by the Shreveport Police Department. The department has failed to respond to most of Mr. Kennedy’s requests.
The lawsuit asserted violations of Mr. Kennedy’s First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, and Fourteenth Amendment rights by the officers’ use of excessive force in response to Mr. Kennedy’s constitutionally protected speech. The suit also asserted a claim against Shreveport Police Chief Wayne Smith for his failure to maintain a policy of decertification whereby the Shreveport Police Department revokes the certificate or license of a police officer who commits certain offenses, such as the officers’ offenses against Mr. Kennedy on December 15, 2020. Finally, the lawsuit asserted a claim against the records custodians of the Shreveport Police Department for their deliberate indifference in responding to public records requests through their endorsement of dilatory tactics meant to delay or deny valid requests for critical information necessary for those seeking to rectify the harms caused by instances of police brutality.
In response to the suit, the defendants filed a motion to strike public information included in the complaint related to the Shreveport Police Department’s woeful treatment of Black civilians, specifically about “the impact of race on the use of lethal force in the United States and Shreveport.” In doing so, the defendants argued that information was “impertinent,” “immaterial,” and “scandalous” such that it would cause undue prejudice. In opposition, Mr. Kennedy argued that the information was relevant because it informed Mr. Kennedy’s own cooperation and provided context for the claims against the officers. It also was essential to prove that the Chief of Police failed to maintain a policy of decertification. The Shreveport police’s history of violence against Black citizens, Mr. Kennedy’s team wrote, is the “inevitable consequence” of the Chief’s policies. The defendant’s motion was denied on procedural grounds.
On December 22, 2022, Mr. Kennedy and the defendants reached an agreement to settle their claims. In doing so, the defendants admitted no liability.
The defendants named in the complaint are:
- Montrell Jackson, officer of the Shreveport Police Department
- John Does, officer of the Shreveport Police Department
- Wayne Smith, chief of the Shreveport Police Department
- Michael Dunn, records custodian for the Shreveport Police Department
- John Doe(s), records custodian(s) for the Shreveport Police Department