Lawsuit alleges La. deputies sat on teen with autism for more than 9 minutes before he died
DESTREHAN - A couple is suing the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office for negligence related to the death of their "severely autistic" son.
The confrontation happened last January in the parking lot of a Metairie shopping center.
Video released by the family's attorney show Eric Para, 16, leaving the Laser Tag of Metairie. Eric appeared to become upset and began slapping at himself and his father.
"Because of his limited language skills, Eric could be self-injurious and have aggressive behaviors when he was frustrated,” Donna Lou, Eric's mother, told WWL-TV.
The station reports the lawsuit alleges deputies arrived on the scene and placed Eric face down on the ground before cuffing his hands behind his back and sitting on him for more than nine minutes. They also claim one of the deputies put the teen in a chokehold.
“As a result, Eric went limp, he stopped breathing and he died,” attorney William Most said.
Eric's parents are now suing Sheriff Joe Lopinto, seven JPSO deputies and the owners of the Westgate Shopping Center.
A statement from the sheriff's office said deputies were only trying to "control the violent teenager's outbursts to prevent him from again attacking his parents and first responders.”
“While the Sheriff's Office remains deeply saddened over this unfortunate loss of life, it does not intend to allow Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Deputies to be maligned and slandered by those seeking to profit from this unfortunate situation,” the JPSO statement read in part.
The family's lawsuit is seeking unspecified monetary damages.
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