Two Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s deputies have been fired after a cellphone video, shared on social media, showed an officer shouting and cursing at a handcuffed man — and then removing his handcuffs while challenging him to a fight during a Saturday night (May 13) arrest in Dulac.
The deputies, Joseph Cehan III, 25, and Charles Cook Jr., 26, lost their jobs after an internal investigation determined that both had violated Sheriff’s Office policy via “conduct unbecoming of a police officer,” according to Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter.
The firings follow social-media circulation of a video that captured one of the deputies yelling and cursing at 18-year-old Christopher Verdin Jr. of Dulac, whom they arrested on charges of illegal use of a weapon, illegal carrying of a weapon and aggravated cruelty to animals.
“The action of these deputies that was shared on social media does not reflect the attitude, training and professionalism of our office and will not be tolerated,” Larpenter said in a news release issued Monday.
Cehan was hired in 2014 as a patrol deputy. Cook was hired in 2013 as a correctional officer but was soon transferred to the patrol division.
In addition to the firings, a rookie deputy was given a letter of reprimand, Larpenter said. The video shows three deputies on the scene.
WARNING: Graphic language. https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Ffrankie.duplantis%2Fvideos%2F1504824072863266%2F&show_text=0&width=400Cehan and Cook were responding to complaints that Verdin had beat a dog on the head with a crescent wrench and then fired two shots at the dog with a .45-caliber handgun.
“You want me to take this f—— badge off and them handcuffs off and see what the f— you really gonna do?” the deputy can be heard shouting at Verdin as he sits handcuffed in the back of a patrol car. “You ain’t s—, bruh,” the deputy adds before continuing to yell at Verdin and, eventually, pull him from the back of the car and remove his handcuffs while continuing to challenge Verdin to fight. The other deputy can be seen nearby.
In the video, a third deputy, standing slightly away from the patrol car, can be seen approaching the person taking the video and questioning his presence at the scene, while also using foul language.
“Don’t f——-touch me. Go over there in that corner,” that deputy says to the person filming.
“They don’t want nobody to see what they do,” the person filming says.
According to the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office, the video captured only a portion of deputies’ interactions with Verdin, which began around 6:45 p.m. Saturday, when Verdin’s mother asked a dispatcher to send officers because Verdin was on methamphetamines and had beaten their dog with a wrench and then pulled a gun from his waistband and fired two shots at the dog, which was very close to her, the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement released Sunday morning.
Verdin’s mother said she had locked herself inside the home and that Verdin had left on foot. She told the dispatcher that she feared for her life, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Responding deputies found Verdin walking on Grand Caillou Road, about a quarter-mile south of his home, and handcuffed him, taking him into and custody, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Deputies confiscated his gun, along with an extended magazine, and then took Verdin back to the scene to continue the investigation. While in the backseat of the patrol car, Verdin was “out of control as he was kicking the door and spitting,” according to the Sheriff’s Office. He was ordered out of the car after he refused to stop kicking and spitting.
“The deputy was instructing Verdin to get out of this patrol car to be placed in the second patrol car and he refused,” the Sheriff’s Office. “Verdin and the deputy exchanged curse words towards one another.”
The video shows Verdin cursing at the deputies.
“The deputy’s choice of words was not very professional and does not reflect the integrity of the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office,” the Sheriff’s Office said in the Sunday statement, adding that the deputies’ actions would be investigated.
On Monday, Verdin remained in the Terrebonne Parish jail on a $75,000 bond, according to the Sheriff’s Office.