Witnesses say alleged thief beaten by deputies

Six people file internal affairs complaint

December 05, 2007 at 12:53 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Witnesses say alleged thief beaten by deputies
On Sept. 21, at 11:30 a.m., a woman leaving the CVS Pharmacy in Luling had her purse snatched from her shoulder while she was attempting to load merchandise into the trunk of her car. Police quickly apprehended Charles Baloney, 20, but his arrest led to a police officer being injured and allegations of police brutality.

Sheriff’s spokesman Patrick Yoes says that reasonable force was necessary in order to apprehend Baloney.

However, conflicting eyewitness reports cast doubt upon whether or not Baloney was even involved in the crime in the first place. Linda McCray, a shift manager of CVS pharmacy who was at work at the time of the incident, says that police brought her to identify Baloney at the St. Charles Parish Hospital parking lot. McCray says the person she saw in the store that day was not the person the police had arrested.

"A guy came in the store that day with twists in his hair, a black baseball cap, and I think he was wearing shorts," McCray said. "The guy the police showed me wasn't wearing shorts, he had pants on, he didn't have twists in his hair and so I told them it wasn't him."

The victim in the crime, Katherine Cedro, couldn't identify Baloney either because she did not get a good look at the thief.

While that testimony seems to work in Baloney's favor, two more witnesses have recently come forward to say that they saw Baloney in the store that day.

And though those accounts seem to offset each other, what happened next has been disputed by police and seven eyewitnesses.

During the course of trying to arrest Baloney on Sept. 21, several officers responded to the call.

One of the officers, Sgt. Renee Kinler, struggled with Baloney during a foot race when she and another officer were trying to apprehend him. During the apprehension, Kinler was injured when her face hit a nearby pole. Baloney was subsequently charged with battery of a police officer.

Six eyewitnesses, Tekoyia Green, Richandra Preston, Shanique Morgan, Diondra Morgan, Treshine Blunt, LaShea Turley, and Sarah Baloney (Charles' mother) give eyewitness accounts of the pole falling on the officer and an alleged severe beating that happened minutes later.

"Charles didn't hit that lady and he didn't force her into that pole," Preston said. "The building we live in is older and it's falling apart."

Preston and another eyewitness, Morgan, say Kinler grabbed the back of Baloney's shirt while he was standing near the buildings' rusted pole. Kinler then bumped into the pole, which dislodged and hit her in the face.

"After the pole fell on the lady, Charles ran right across the street trying to get into the apartment where his mother lived which was upstairs," Preston said. "He began beating on the door."

According to eyewitness statements, at least six police officers surrounded Baloney, two handcuffed him and afterward eyewitnesses state that they began to beat him severely.

 "He was screaming, and it was a shame to watch him get beat up like that," Preston said. "We couldn't understand why it was happening because he had already been placed in handcuffs."

Both Baloney's mother and Morgan say Baloney was begging for his mother to help him while also screaming out "I didn't do nothing."

And not all of the eyewitnesses come from Baloney's apartment building.

Green, who works as a patient registration clerk for St. Charles Parish Hospital, was on her lunch break and saw all of the commotion. She then walked over to the complex to see what was going on.

"They (deputies) had him (Baloney) laying face down on the ground and he was in handcuffs," she said. "They (deputies) were punching him in the face, hitting him in the head with a black stick, cursing at him and calling him a n------."

Green says he was pepper sprayed in the face by another deputy while he was already on the ground and in handcuffs.
"The group of us that were out there called Channel 4 (WWL), but they didn't come so we also contacted ABC-26, at the time they thought that a hurricane may be in the Gulf so they told us they couldn't send anybody," Green said.

Green and several other witnesses state that one of the men beating Baloney wasn't wearing a police uniform, but was in regular clothes.

"He lost so much blood that it was everywhere," Green said. "After the beating they were kneeing him in the back and telling him to walk down the stairs and get up and walk."

The eyewitnesses filed a formal complaint with the Internal Affairs Office in St. Charles Parish and six St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Deputies are named. The St. Charles Parish Sheriff's office refused to release the officers named in the complaint.

"My client did tell me he was severely beaten by the deputies after he was already in handcuffs," Deanne Sirmon, Baloney's attorney, said. "He told me, ‘It's not right.'"
Sirmon says that she believes her client will file a formal complaint against St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Deputies at the encouragement of his family.

The sheriff’s office then issued this response to the alleged beating.

"Charles Baloney, now twenty years old, has been arrested eight times since he became an adult, on charges which include; Possession of Stolen Property, Simple Burglary, Unauthorized entry into an inhabited dwelling, simple assault, resisting arrest, aggravated assault, domestic abuse battery, simple criminal damage to property, battery upon a police officer, simple robbery, aggravated burglary and illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.  With each subsequent arrest, the criminal activity of Baloney has become increasingly violent.

“On September 20, 2007, Baloney forced his way into the home of a man, robbed him at gunpoint and pistol-whipped the victim before leaving. On September 21, 2007, the next day, Baloney committed a simple robbery of a female victim (incident in question) in the parking lot of a local pharmacy and fled.

“Moments later he was spotted by deputies nearby and immediately fled into the apartment of another victim. This victim screamed for him to leave whereupon he fled from that apartment and physically shoved a female detective into an iron post, causing injuries sending her to the hospital.
“As other deputies arrived on the scene, Baloney began to violently resist arrest as he has done in the past.

Reasonable force was necessary in order to apprehend him.
“We will have no further comment upon these cases until the criminal proceedings have been concluded in court."
On Nov. 29, Baloney, who has a documented history of mental illness, had a hearing in Judge Emile St. Pierre's courtroom in Hahnville, to determine whether or not evidence surrounding the case could be suppressed.

At that hearing, St. Pierre listened to accounts of the alleged battery of a police officer charge, and other evidence involving the purse snatching, because the purse was never recovered.

St. Pierre ruled that both cases should go to trial and a jury should determine Baloney's guilt or innocence.  The first trial date is Feb. 19 for the purse snatching and the second trial will be held Feb. 25, 2008 for the battery charge of the police officer. Two separate juries will decide Baloney's fate.

View other articles written Shonna Riggs

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