Coach sues in handcuffing

Incident occurred during football game in Bossier City

Barry 'Tut' Musemeche
Barry 'Tut' Musemeche

Live Oak High School’s football coach —who was handcuffed but not arrested while his team was warming up before its Nov. 9 playoff game with Parkway High School in Bossier City — filed suit Wednesday claiming he was unlawfully detained and defamed over a marching band dispute.

Television footage of Barry “Tut” Musemeche being led off the field in handcuffs was broadcast around the state and throughout the South, according to the lawsuit filed in state district court in Baton Rouge.

Musemeche was released and did coach the Eagles in a 36-13 loss to the Panthers.

“It’s totally unfortunate that an event like this happened. I feel what happened was outrageous,” Musemeche said Wednesday.

His suit claims Live Oak’s band was originally scheduled to perform from 6:35 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., and when the band opted not to perform, Musemeche was told by Parkway coach David Feaster that the Live Oak team could warm-up until the Parkway band was scheduled to perform at 6:45 p.m. The head game official also agreed to allow the warm-up, Musemeche said.

But at 6:35 p.m., Musemeche heard a public address announcement saying Live Oak’s team had to leave the field, the suit says.

Shortly after the announcement, a Bossier City police officer and Parkway Principal Nichole Bourgeois approached Musemeche and demanded that he leave the field immediately. Musemeche told them about the agreement with Feaster and the head game official and that his team would be off the field by 6:45 p.m., the suit says.

“Nonetheless, suddenly and without warning, Bourgeois told the officer, ‘cuff him, get him off the field, cuff him,’ ” the suit says.

Musemeche was handcuffed and escorted to the outside of the locker room area, where he was re-cuffed, causing injuries to his arms, including bleeding, cuts, bruising and numbness, the suit says.

Musemeche did not resist being removed from the field, the suit says.

“My team was warming up 20 to 25 minutes before the game. You see that at schools every week. It was outrageous and unnecessary for a coach to be put into handcuffs in a situation like that,” Musemeche said.

Bourgeois repeatedly asked Musemeche during his detention, “So now you are going to respect my authority?’’ the suit says.

Bourgeois, the Bossier Parish school system and the Bossier City Police Department are named as defendants in the suit.

The suit says there was “no basis” for Musemeche’s detention.

The Bossier Parish School Board and Parkway were closed Wednesday for the Thanksgiving holiday and could not be reached for comment. Bossier City Police Chief Shane McWilliams was out of the office and unavailable for comment.

Musemeche is suing the Bossier school system and Bourgeois for libel, slander and defamation.

Bourgeois said after the game in a broadcast report that the Live Oak team refused to leave the field so the Parkway band could perform.

“From my client’s perspective there are two objectives. The first is to clear his name,” Jill Craft, who represents Musemeche, said. “The second is to stand up for all the teams and athletes out there.”

Craft said she has “never had a case like this one.”

Louisiana High School Athletic Association Executive Director Kenny Henderson said a sportsmanship hearing is tentatively set for 10 a.m. Nov. 29 at the LHSAA office in Baton Rouge.

The LHSAA required both schools to submit reports on the incident.

The suit, which seeks damages, has been assigned to state District Judge William Morvant.

Live Oak High School is located in Watson in Livingston Parish.