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Sheriff's office responds after video shows deputy dragging woman by her hair

1 month 1 week 6 days ago Wednesday, October 20 2021 Oct 20, 2021 October 20, 2021 5:29 PM October 20, 2021 in News
Source: WBRZ
Photo: WWL-TV

JEFFERSON PARISH - The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office is investigating after video showed one of its deputies dragging a woman by her hair and slamming her to the ground.

ProPublica spoke to Shantel Arnold, who said she was attacked by three teenagers around 2 p.m. Sept. 20. Arnold's stepfather helped chase them away, and she was reportedly confronted by a deputy on her walk home. 

Arnold claimed the deputy made her stop walking and talk to him. Witnesses told ProPublica that the deputy, identified as Tony Givens, grabbed her in the family's driveway and knocked Arnold to the ground. 

The video showed 34-year-old Arnold being violently slammed on the pavement by Givens. She said several of her braids were ripped from her head in the encounter.

After the attack, Arnold said she suffered recurring headaches, bruises and scratches across her body and a busted lip. Deputies took her to the hospital. 

She was never charged with a crime, though the department said that Arnold was intoxicated at the time and that she resisted the deputy who tried to detain her. The sheriff's office also claims the video posted online was "selectively edited."

Arnold's sister, Mercedes, told ProPublica that Givens showed up to the hospital that Arnold was at and told doctors that she was mentally ill and needed to be committed. 

“He was just trying to cover up what he did by saying my sister is crazy,” she told reporters. 

Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Department released the following statement: 

On September 20, 2021, the JPSO Communications Center received a 911 emergency call from a third-party witness reporting that a large crowd of approximately 25 people were fighting in front of an apartment complex in the 500 block of Richard Avenue. The caller further stated that the subjects were hitting each other with tree limbs.

Upon the deputy’s arrival, the multiple-party fight had ended, but individuals pointed out Ms. Shantel Brown as one who had been involved in the altercation.

The deputy, in an attempt to investigate the fight, attempted to talk to Ms. Brown. Ms. Brown refused to be detained and attempted to walk away. The deputy attempted to place Ms. Brown under arrest for the fight, but she pulled away from him. When this resistance occurred, the video is clear, it shows him flipping her by her hair into a prone position onto her chest. He then placed her into handcuffs with the assistance of Ms. Brown's uncle, who was also on scene.

After Ms. Brown was detained, the deputy further investigated the matter. He learned that Ms. Brown was intoxicated and was fighting with several individuals in the neighborhood. He spoke with several other individuals who were involved in the original fight. None of the combatants wished to press charges on each other for the fight. The deputy made the decision to release Ms. Brown without an arrest.

On the following day, the Sheriff’s Office received a selectively edited video of the use of force. This video was sent to our Internal Affairs Division for investigation. Notably, neither Ms. Brown, nor any other individual has come to the Sheriff’s Office in order to file a complaint. The Sheriff’s Office, on its own accord, went to Ms. Brown to investigate the deputy's actions.

Nearly a month ago, on September 21, 2021, an audiotaped statement was taken from Ms. Brown, where she (1) admitted to being in the physical fight with multiple parties prior to the deputy's arrival, (2) admitted to being intoxicated at the time of the incident, and (3) admitted to resisting the deputy as he tried to question and detain her regarding her participation in the street fight.

The investigation into the deputy’s use of force is still under investigation. JPSO investigators are still trying to ascertain who video-recorded the incident, so we can obtain the entire video and not just a portion of the video lasting only a few seconds.

Ultimately, if the investigation reveals the deputy violated the law or policy, he will be disciplined accordingly. If anyone was a witness to this incident or has additional video pertaining to this matter, please contact our Internal Affairs Division at 504-832-2362.

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