The MPs knew they were dealing with a “severely autistic” teenager, but decided to hold the youth back by sitting on his back and putting him in a stranglehold and eventually killing him.
The parents of a “severely autistic teenager” who died last year have filed a federal lawsuit against Sheriff MPs in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana.
According to the New York Times, Eric Parsa’s parents say their son was killed after Jefferson Parish MPs tried to restrain the 16-year-old boy by sitting on him. Allegedly, the MPs took turns on Parsa and spread his back for a total of at least nine minutes.
When law enforcement officials believed he was in control of Parsa, the youth suffered fatal injuries.
The lawsuit, which was filed in the US District Court in the eastern borough of Louisiana, comes nearly a year after Parsa’s untimely death.
According to the New York Times, Parsa was killed on January 19, 2020, shortly after suffering an “autism-related collapse” near a mall. MPs confronted Parsa in the shopping center parking lot, where he was handcuffed and restrained.
Parsa, according to the Times, reportedly suffered from emotional or sensory overload when leaving the building.
Eric’s parents, Dr. Daren and Donna Lou claim that the Jefferson Parish MPs showed negligence and used excessive violence against a clearly concerned teenager.
In addition to brutalizing Parsa to the point of death, the boy’s parents say law enforcement violated their son’s rights under the federal law on Americans with Disabilities.
“We never thought our 16-year-old special needs son would die before our eyes at this age and in the hands of law enforcement,” said Dr. Donna Lou at a press conference announcing the lawsuit. “Unfortunately, our reality is a nightmare.”
Generic sheriff badge. Image via Flickr / User: Kim Siever. Public domain.
The New York Times lists the accused as Sheriff Joseph P. Lopinto III of Jefferson Parish along with seven MPs in Lopinto’s employment.
While the sheriff’s office has denied the charges cited in the lawsuit, Howard Manis – an attorney representing Parsa’s parents – says it is evident that MPs “apparently had no idea how to deal with a person with special needs “.
Mannis said that despite repeated warnings, it was a mentally disabled child and that they “shared with one another that it was a young man who was severely autistic, was just normal business for them.”
The Times notes that Eric’s breakdown began after his parents took him out of the mall where Parsa was playing laser tag.
Parsa caused a violent outbreak after being taken to the parking lot and started beating himself and his father.
A shopping mall employee asked Parsa’s parents if they wanted or needed help with law enforcement and only dialed emergency services after receiving a positive response.
When the police arrived, a MP of “considerable” height threw Parsa on the floor, causing him and some of his colleagues to take turns sitting on the boy’s back. Parsa was also reportedly held in a choke hold.
After it became clear that Parsa was on the verge of death, MPs refused to tell Dr. Donna Lou – a trained and registered health care professional – preferred to do the resuscitation themselves.
In response to the lawsuit, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Department accused Parsa’s parents of filing a complaint full of lies.
“While the Sheriff’s Office understands that all deaths are cause for grief and a time to mourn, this lawsuit is full of false allegations and malicious allegations against the first MPs to respond,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
Dr. Donna Lou suggested to the New York Times that Eric Parsa was struggling to overcome his autism-related social disabilities and had improved in recent years.
“Not a day goes by that we don’t long for Eric and grieve over the loss of his life and the future he would have had,” said Dr. Donna Lou of the Times. “We are bringing this lawsuit in the hope that Eric’s death will not be in vain and that no other families will experience the same horror, loss and shock that we are experiencing.”
A teenage boy with autism died after Louisiana MPs sat on him for 9 minutes, the parents’ lawsuit said
Parents of “severely autistic” teenagers killed in JPSO detention are filing civil rights lawsuits
Parents Sue Louisiana Sheriff and MP on the death of their autistic son