Opelousas police officer charged with beating Black teen remains on paid leave
OPELOUSAS - An Opelousas Police Officer who turned himself in to authorities once accusations of brutality surfaced, is allowed to keep his job for the immediate future, despite five pending felony charges related to his alleged assault of a Black teen.
According to The Advocate, Opelousas Police Sgt. Tyron Andrepont, who has already been on paid-leave since mid-November, will remain on paid leave until a departmental investigation concludes, at which time the elected police chief, Martin McLendon will present the findings to City Council. The council must approve any decision to terminate Andrepont.
Mayor Julius Alsandor, speaking at an NAACP press briefing, said it would be “imprudent” of him to comment on the department's probe into the allegations against Andrepont, including its timeframe for completion, though he said he’s “pretty confident it won’t be long.”
“The council will have to take those recommendations under advisement and make a good, rational decision on the information that’s presented to them,” Alsandor said.
The St. Landry Parish chapter of the NAACP is calling for Andrepont's firing.
He'd been charged this month with five counts of felony malfeasance in connection with his handling of an October 2019 call to Opelousas General Health System’s south campus.
A probable cause affidavit said that after arriving at the hospital, Andrepont struck 18-year-old Jonah Coleman in the face at least once, causing his head “to snap backwards” and “put his right arm around Jonah’s neck in a choke hold,” among other acts of battery, the document said.
Coleman had been admitted to the hospital and was not being held or investigated for any suspicion of criminal activity, according to his attorney, Daryl Washington. It’s not clear why hospital staff called police in the first place, or what prompted Andrepont to use force.
Washington has previously said Andrepont “totally overacted” in using “inhumane force” against Coleman, who was not threatening anyone.
The incident was followed by six-month State Police investigation. If convicted on all malfeasance counts, Andrepont could face a maximum of 25 years in prison, if time is served consecutively, and would lose his P.O.S.T. law enforcement certification.
The NAACP chapter president, the Rev. Frank Ford, said on Monday that Andrepont must be fired immediately, given his record of unjustified force against Black residents.
“He has displayed these type of behaviors, negative behaviors against people of color, for more than 10 years.” “Who knows what he’s going to do next?”
Ford was referring to an incident more than 10 years ago in which Andrepont was accused of beating an Opelousas minister, Elton Sam, because he believed Sam was stealing from a Goodwill store.
In fact, Sam’s house had burned down and the items in his possession had been donated to him. Not only did Andrepont administer force unnecessarily, he also failed to properly question Sam before jumping to conclusions.
That incident resulted in a lawsuit that remains active.
“He’s a liability to the police force, he’s a liability to the city in more ways than one,” Ford said.
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