Did some St. Tammany deputies go too far in subduing a suspect?
by Mike Perlstein
NEW ORLEANS - One police expert said that not since Rodney King has he seen a worse case of police brutality against a man in handcuffs than what happened to Shane Gates on Nov. 16, 2006. But according to Gates, a 37-year-old law office manager, his injuries were only the beginning of a long nightmarish cover-up by St. Tammany parish authorities.
Photographs of Gates a few days after he was pulled over and arrested by St. Tammy Parish sheriff’s deputies show how doctors used 27 stitches to sew up a snaking laceration that almost tore off Gates’ left eyelid. Blood stains cover the sweater and shorts he was wearing that night.
Gates said the attack came without warning after he repeatedly tried to lift his head from the hood of a deputy’s car because it was burning his face. He was being held against the cruiser – in handcuffs – after a traffic stop allegedly turned into a wild high-speed chase.
“They held me down on the hood of the car which was still running and very hot. And they were smushing my face into the hood of the car,” he said.
As Gates recalled, when he tried to lift his head, he was first pepper-sprayed, then thrown to the asphalt where a deputy repeatedly pounded his face into the pavement.
“The officer grabbed me and spun me around, threw me to the ground. He then jumped on top of me and he held me there – while I’m handcuffed – and he grabbed the back of my head by the scruff,” Gates said. “And he just started smacking my face into I-12 until I was unconscious “
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