This article was originally co-published by WRKF and WWNO and The New Orleans Advocate/The Times-Picayune on December 22, 2021. See full article online.
Police can arrest people for “cover charges,” like resisting arrest, to justify their use of excessive force and shield themselves from liability. In Jefferson Parish, 73% of the time someone is arrested on a “cover charge” alone, they’re Black.
Thousands packed the sidewalks along Veterans Memorial Boulevard in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, watching the Krewe of Centurions Mardi Gras parade in March of 2019 when a brawl broke out at a nearby parking garage. More than two dozen men traded blows in a bloody melee that forced the parade’s 20-plus floats to grind to a halt.
Sheriff’s deputies quickly broke up the fight, arresting at least one man. As officers attempted to calm the crowd and shepherd them back to the parade route, Sgt. Keith Dowling claimed he saw someone hurling obscenities at his officers.
An “argumentative black male [was] agitating elements within the crowd by repeatedly yelling ‘Fuck You’ while gesturing with both middle fingers at responding deputies,” Dowling wrote in his incident report.
He identified the person in question as Jacobi Cage.
Cage’s presence at the parade is the only thing about that night that he and the officers agree on. Dowling, an eight-year veteran of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, said he tried to de-escalate the situation by quietly removing Cage from the scene, but the then-20-year-old became violent and swung “wildly” at him, hitting him in the chest. The sergeant stated in his report he had no choice at that point but to use force to take Cage to the ground, after which he booked Cage for battery of an officer and resisting arrest.← Blog