City expected to settle lawsuit from 2010 incident
The grandmother of homicide suspect Aramis Jackson is expected to receive a $40,000 settlement from the city-parish government because of injuries she received from police officers who searched her house after the shooting in pursuit of her grandson.
In September 2010, 42-year-old Alexandra Engler and her 9-year-old daughter, Ariana, were shot in their Beauregard Town home by a man who stole their flat screen television. Engler died; her daughter was wounded.
Days after the shooting, Baton Rouge police officers obtained a search warrant for Linda Thomas’s Myrtle Street home in an effort to find Jackson, who was later arrested and is currently awaiting trial.
Thomas alleges police used a battering ram to break down her door, and after entering pointed a loaded rifle in her face directing her to lie on the floor, “at which time Officer (John) Doe stomped his foot squarely on Plaintiff’s face, causing lacerations, bruising, scars and other injuries,” according to the suit filed in federal district court in Baton Rouge.
Thomas was treated for injuries to her eye, which was swollen shut. She said she had blurred vision for the next two years. She also had a cracked tooth removed after the incident.
The suit names the City of Baton Rouge, Mayor-President Kip Holden, former Police Chief Jeffrey LeDuff, former Police Chief DeWayne White, Detective Scott Blake, Sgt. Christopher Johnson and Officer John Doe, seeking damages for property damage, physical injuries and mental anguish and anxiety.
Thomas’s attorney, Chris Alexander, said he couldn’t comment because the settlement hasn’t been finalized, but he added: “We believe it’s a fair resolution.”
The Metro Council is expected to vote Wednesday on whether to approve the settlement.
Baton Rouge Police Department spokeswoman Sgt. Mary Ann Godawa also declined comment on the pending litigation.
The parish attorney’s office did not respond to a request for comment. But in court documents the parish attorney’s office denied the allegations made in Thomas’s suit.
In 2010, Thomas had a swollen eye and a bruised neck when she was interviewed by a reporter after the search of her home. At the time, she said she had not seen Jackson in years and did not have a good relationship with him.
“Just because I’m his grandmother … doesn’t give them the right to treat me like they did,” Thomas said at the time.
Jackson is awaiting trial, facing charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and aggravated burglary.