GONZALES — A Prairieville man who was the victim of a car break-in early Tuesday morning will ask the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office for an internal affairs investigation into the voluntary collection of his DNA as part of the burglary probe, his attorney said Wednesday.
Donald Hodge said his client, Kevin Kuperman, 35, has concerns about his DNA being in law enforcement custody and would like to see the DNA destroyed.
“We’re filing an internal review with their department, and hopefully we’ll get the DNA back or see that it is destroyed,” Hodge said.
Kuperman and his wife, Laila, said his Ray-Ban sunglasses were taken during a string of car and garage burglaries in the Waterford Lake subdivision early Tuesday.
A suspect was arrested later Tuesday, deputies said.
When Kuperman returned home from work Tuesday evening in his car, he reported the burglary and a deputy arrived about 8 p.m. to collect DNA from the vehicle. At that time, he also asked Kuperman for his DNA.
“ ‘OK, we’ll swab the car. Also we want to swab you for your DNA to eliminate your donation from any sample we take,’ ” Kuperman said the deputy told him.
The deputy gave him cotton swabs and told him to rub them on the inside of each cheek.
Though he was not told he could refuse or what would happen to the DNA, Kuperman said he complied voluntarily. He said he thought it was weird, considering the deputy told him the arrested suspect already had voluntarily given his DNA.
Later Kuperman said he became concerned. Kuperman said he is not aware of any other neighbors who were asked to submit DNA, feels singled out and is worried what will happen to his genetic information in law enforcement custody.
“The more and more we discussed it, this is kind of a simple property crime. Collection of DNA and storage of DNA is pretty outlandish,” he said.
Chief Deputy Tony Bacala, who noted Kuperman’s car was unlocked when it was broken into, said the collection of DNA is part of making the additional break-in charge against the suspect “air tight.”
Bacala and a State Police spokesman added part of that DNA collection process involves getting elimination DNA samples from victims.
“It is routine, and as a matter of fact, it is not routine. It is an absolute protocol,” Bacala said.
He said that, in many car and home burglaries, the State Police Crime Lab will not accept crime scene DNA samples without the victim’s elimination sample also.
Bacala said the victim’s DNA is used to distinguish it from a potential suspect’s DNA and to keep the victim’s DNA out of a nationwide criminal DNA database known as CODIS.
Doug Cain, State Police spokesman, added that an instance where the elimination DNA would not be required is if the sample were known to be from the suspect, such as blood on a window. He said the elimination sample, however, must be kept and stored for future criminal proceedings.
Marjorie Esman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, said whether it is protocol or not, it appears Kuperman was given a warrantless, suspicionless search for a crime that could have been solved with less extensive lengths.
“It may be standard procedure, but standard procedure does not mean they can violate people’s rights,” she said. “Just ’cause they do it all the time does not mean it is OK.”
Bacala said the man arrested in the burglaries, Leeroy Hernandez, 19, 15096 Beau John Ave., Prairieville, was booked with two counts of simple burglary of a vehicle, a single count of criminal trespass, an outstanding bench warrant and probation violations.