Pointe Coupee deputies suspended over response to wreck

Three deputies with the Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff’s Office and a New Roads police officer have been suspended without pay following an investigation into special treatment the officer received in an off-duty crash while suspected of driving while intoxicated.

Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff Bud Torres announced at a news conference Tuesday that Sgt. Dylan Bergeron, Lt. Pat Bizette and Capt. Adrian Slaughter had been suspended without pay because they did not follow proper protocol when they responded to a late-night crash March 28 involving New Roads police Capt. Mark Munson.

During a separate news conference at City Hall, New Roads Mayor Robert Myer revealed Munson had been suspended without pay indefinitely after he was cited for failure to maintain control of his vehicle and violating the state’s open-container laws as a result of the investigation.

“This is behavior that will not be tolerated by this office,” Myer said. “Mr. Munson has not had any disciplinary problems in the past (but) this was something you couldn’t ignore.”

Torres announced April 1 that his office and the Louisiana State Police had launched a probe into the crash after witnesses complained, saying Munson was not issued a traffic citation or arrested after he crashed his truck into a ditch along North Carolina Avenue in New Roads.

Munson was placed on administrative leave March 31 pending the outcome of the investigation.

According to a traffic report from the crash, Bergeron and the other deputies were called to a single-vehicle crash at 11:57 p.m. March 28.

Bergeron, who found Munson sitting across the street from the accident, said he discovered a half-empty bottle of gin in the center console of Munson’s truck.

The deputy also wrote he could smell a “slight odor” of alcohol on Munson’s breath when he talked to him.

However, Bergeron said, Munson wasn’t given a Breathalyzer test because he and other officers on his shift were not certified to administer the test.

According to previous news reports, an officer with the State Police was available to administer the Breathalyzer test but was turned away by the deputies.

Torres would not confirm that Tuesday, saying only that Munson should have been tested for alcohol.

“It hasn’t been crystal clear to me exactly what happened at the scene that night,” Torres said. “I was not there so its very difficult for me to Monday morning quarterback it, but the bottom line is: I would hope the (officers there) would have done their jobs.”

The sheriff would not say how long each man would be suspended, but did say he would base it on rank.

Myer said Munson, an 18-year veteran of the New Roads Police Department, would not be allowed to return to the police force until he has met several criteria.

The stipulations include paying all fines related to the incident, paying any restitution for property damage caused in the crash, completing a driver safety course at the State Police training academy and enrolling in an alcohol counseling program — which Myer said Munson has already done.

Munson could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

“We have a very strict policy in our Police Department any time they’re involved in an accident,” Myer said.

“This was obviously in a private vehicle on off-time, however, when you represent the city of New Roads in any capacity you take that responsibility with you all the time,” he said. “When those charges were substantiated … this wasn’t a hard choice at all.”