Teardrop tattoo on deputy's face forces two to resign
BATON ROUGE – A sheriff’s deputy resigned her position as an internal investigation was getting started surrounding horseplay involving a symbol drawn on the face of another deputy.
Kayla Clark quit the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office in the last few weeks, the department revealed Friday amid questions about the incident.
An internal investigation was set to inquire why the deputy drew a teardrop tattoo on a fellow deputy’s face then sent a text message with “earned his stripes” to a supervisor.
A teardrop tattoo is usually aligned with prison art and is perceived to echo various insinuations. A California law enforcement gang expert once testified in a west coast court that the tattoos are often used to signify time served or possibly references to the number of people an individual has killed.
The other deputy involved, James Hammett, was on administrative duty when deputy Clark drew the image on his face. Hammett was on an assignment that kept him out of public involvement following the shooting death of Melvin Watkins in September. Hammett shot Watkins after responding to reports Watkins was in a violent stupor with family and friends at a home in a neighborhood off Jefferson Highway. The case has since been turned over to the District Attorney's office.
Hammett was allowed back at work – though only permitted to do administrative tasks – after findings showed he acted within the scope of his duties, the sheriff’s office said previously.
Deputy Clark told supervisors she drew the image on Hammett as a “silly” gesture referencing him “doing time” on administrative duty.
As the sheriff’s office was beginning an internal investigation into the situation, both deputies resigned, WBRZ learned Friday.
Clark resigned citing difficulties with shift work and family life while Hammett resigned citing unrelated personal reasons.
Neither deputy had any previous disciplinary actions nor internal affairs investigations, the sheriff’s office said.