Police Department: Morehouse Parish Sheriff’s Department
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana and Covington & Burling LLP are representing Tamekia Olive in a lawsuit against Investigator Alvin Holmes from the Morehouse Parish Sherriff’s Department (“MPSO”), along with Sheriff Mike Tubbs in his official capacity as Sheriff. The complaint seeks to address the MPSO’s alleged custom of unlawfully arresting individuals who refuse to identify without reasonable suspicion or probable cause that those individuals have committed a crime, as well as alleged violations of Ms. Olive’s constitutional rights.
As articulated in Ms. Olive’s lawsuit, on Friday, September 10, 2021, Ms. Olive went to the MPSO to file a complaint against Corporal Cobi Brown of the MPSO for threatening her the night before at her home. After walking into the public lobby of the MPSO, Ms. Olive spoke to Chief Deputy James Mardis and explained that she wished to file a complaint about Corporal Brown. Chief Deputy Mardis refused to allow Ms. Olive to file a complaint without providing her name and ultimately threated Ms. Olive with arrest if she did not leave the building. Ms. Olive filmed this entire interaction with Chief Deputy Mardis on her smartphone, in an exercise of her First Amendment right to film the police in public spaces.
As Ms. Olive was standing on the public sidewalk outside the MPSO lobby, Investigator Holmes emerged from the building and approached her. Investigator Holmes asserted that Ms. Olive was required to identify herself to law enforcement when asked under La. Rev. Stat. 14:108. Ms. Olive explained that she was within her rights to refuse to provide her name to Investigator Holmes because he did not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause that she was committing a crime. Despite Ms. Olive’s legally accurate explanation of her rights, Investigator Holmes continued to insist that Ms. Olive was required to identify herself to law enforcement. After Ms. Olive continued to decline to identify herself, and as explained in her lawsuit, Investigator Holmes wrongfully arrested her for “resisting by refusing to identify.”
At the moment that Ms. Olive was wrongfully arrested, she was continuing to exercise her First Amendment right to record the police. The arrest prevented her from continuing to exercise that First Amendment right, because Defendant Holmes took her phone away from her and turned off the recording as he applied handcuffs to herThe lawsuit asserts violations of Ms. Olive’s constitutional rights under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and in violation of Louisiana’s common-law prohibition against false arrest. The suit also asserts claims against Sheriff Mike Tubbs, in his official capacity, based on the MPSO’s custom of unlawfully arresting individuals who refused to identify and the MPSO’s failure to adequately supervise and train officers.
The defendants in this case are:
- Sheriff Mike Tubbs, in his official capacity; and
- Investigator Alvin Holmes, in his individual capacity.