Tammany Police Brutality Suit Settled

This article originally appeared in The Times-Picayune on December 15th, 2008. Click here to view the digital version.

Woman said officer slammed face into car.

December 16th, 2008

By Jeff Adelson

St. Tammany Bureau

The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office has settled out of court a 5-year-old lawsuit in which a Folsom woman claimed she was beaten by a deputy after a dispute at a Mandeville area carwash.

The suit alleged that Holly Ray Bush, now 23, was seriously injured when a detective slammed her face into a car after handcuffing her.

The case, which was set to go to trial Monday in U.S. District Court in New Orleans, gained notoriety early this year when a federal appeals court ruled Bush could continue with the suit after she was found guilty of resisting arrest.

The two sides agreed on a settlement Thursday. The details are not included in the court record, but money will change hands, according to the court order dismissing the suit.

Attorneys for both Bush and the Sheriff’s Office said they could not comment directly on the agreement since it included a confidentiality clause.

The suit, filed in 2003, initially sought $280, 000 plus legal fees and interest. St. Tammany Sheriff Jack Strain, Detective Dale Galloway and Deputy Ronald Plaisance were named in the suit.

“We’re happy with the settlement,” said Chuck Hughes, an attorney for the Sheriff’s Office. “There’s nothing in the settlement that finds the Sheriff’s Office to have committed any constitutional rights violation.”

Bush’s attorney, Gary Bizal, said he was satisfied with the outcome of the case.

In October 2002, Bush was arrested at the Blue Harbor Car Wash near Mandeville after throwing a cup of ice water at a woman. Bush had said the woman made a disparaging comment about her sister.

The suit alleged that after Galloway handcuffed Bush, he “slammed her face into the back of a parked car, causing permanent injury to her teeth, mouth, face, head, neck and jaw.”

The suit alleged Plaisance did not intervene and later helped Galloway cover up the incident.

Bush was booked with resisting arrest and simple battery. In October 2004, she was acquitted on the simple battery charge but convicted of resisting arrest and sentenced to pay a $100 fine.

After Bush was found guilty, U.S. District Court Magistrate Daniel E. Knowles III ruled she could not prevail in her civil suit without rendering her conviction invalid, and the lawsuit was thrown out.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that ruling, saying that Bush could win the civil suit without impairing the validity of her criminal conviction.

The opinion said Bush had produced evidence showing that the alleged excessive force occurred after she stopped resisting arrest.

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