Wrongful deaths, beatings, false arrests alleged in lawsuits against Rapides law enforcement

Plaintiffs blame jailhouse murder, overdose and suicide on lack of oversight

A string of lawsuits lays out allegations of death, violence, negligence and unwarranted arrests, stops and searches against Rapides Parish law enforcement in recent years. Plaintiffs point fingers at leadership for permitting a climate of misconduct. 

 A Louisiana Illuminator review of federal and state court records since 2020 found multiple complaints against the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Mark Wood, his deputies and prison guards, not all of which are covered here. Police officers from Alexandria and Pineville are also defendants in the lawsuits as is the Rapides Parish Police Jury. 

Lauren Bonds, executive director of National Police Accountability Project, said it’s not just the frequency of the suits that jumps out at her but the severity and the range of issues they cover. How the sheriff’s office runs its jails is the focus of many of the court cases as well as questionable patrol practices, SWAT team dispatches and use of informants.

 “It’s not like there’s this discrete problem that some repairs here or there could fix,” Bonds said. “It really does seem like it’s a problem of leadership and oversight and supervision more generally. The complaints are touching all the different work of the sheriff’s department.”

Read the article at Louisiana Illuminator