David Prejean, a former Sergeant in the K-9 Unit of the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office was sentenced Monday on his guilty plea to violating the civil rights of a detainee.  Prejean previously admitted that he acted without legal justification on Dec. 6, 2012, when he commanded his K-9 to bite the detainee, and then struck the detainee, resulting in bodily injury.

According to statements made in court and filings made in connection with the guilty plea, Prejean was a K-9 Sergeant when he was called to the Iberia Parish Jail on Dec. 6, 2012, to assist with a shakedown. Authorities say during the course of the shakedown, an inmate turned to look at Prejean after being told not to, at which point Prejean threw the inmate to the ground and then commanded his dog to bite him. Prejean also struck the inmate several times.  Prejean allowed the dog to bite the inmate for several seconds before pulling the K9 away.  Officials say then Prejean wrote false report designed to cover up his unjustified use of force.

News 10 spoke with Major Wendell Raborn, the Chief of Staff of the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office and he says the Department initially didn’t find out about Prejean’s sentencing until local reports from the media.
Now they’re hoping to turn the page of sorts, and use this as a learning lesson for their deputies to realize that no one is above the law.
“Everybody wants their police officers or their law enforcement officers held to a higher standard, and we expect that. And this is what happens when you mess up,” said Major Raborn.
Prejean’s unlawful use of force resulted in the inmate getting injured, and following the assault, officials say Prejean wrote a false report to cover up the use of force.
“There are penalties for abuse. We have to follow the guidelines, we have a rule book that we play by. The bad guys out there, they don’t have a rule book, but we have to stay within the rules and that’s what the public expects.”
Raborn says the department also has numerous training programs where they show their deputies different videos from across the country, on better ways a police officer could have handled a situation, and for things like this to never happen again in their department.
“Certainly it’s an eye opening event for any agency to have officers prosecuted by the federal government, but we went back to our in-service training and our other training sessions,” said Raborn.
The Department focused on ethics, use of force, and possible ramifications for use of force.
Raborn encourages other officers to speak up, just like the public does if they see something unusual.
“We’ve had several instances where officers have questioned other officers actions. We encourage it. That’s how we stay in checks and balances. somebody has to say something,” he said.
All deputies on patrol within the Sheriff’s Department are required to wear their body cameras, as well as turn on their cameras on their cars.
Even if the body cameras are turned off, the deputies are required to mention in their reports why this happened.

Prejean was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison and one year supervised release.