Narcotics agents with the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office enforced their own code of justice, running amok in a deep culture of abuse without fear of discipline from a chain of command that tolerated and even encouraged violence, according to testimony Tuesday in the trial of Sheriff Louis Ackal.
When asked how his narcotics team viewed the residents of the neighborhoods they worked, former agent Jason Comeaux summed it up succinctly: “They were animals, and they needed to be treated like animals.”
A jury began hearing evidence this week to determine if that culture of lawless law enforcement stretched all the way up to Ackal, who faces civil rights charges in an investigation of abuse and cover-ups going back to his first days in office eight years ago.
Jurors on Tuesday began hearing from some of the many deputies who have pleaded guilty in the case, all taking the witness stand to testify against their former boss.
They talked of abuse and excessive force as a routine part of the job.
Comeaux, who pleaded guilty earlier this year to beating inmates and then lying about it, said he couldn’t even recall how many people he had roughed up unnecessarily.
When asked if he had ever filled out any of the use-of-force paperwork officers are required to file when an arrestee is injured, he said he wouldn’t have even known where to find the forms.
“They didn’t care about what we did as long as we kept the streets quiet,” Comeaux said.