Driver Beaten by Louisiana Cops Faces Second Trial After Acquittal


According to the official police version of what happened to Shane Gates on November 16, 2006, he led St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, sheriff's deputies on a high-speed chase, after which he emerged from his car, stinking drunk, and "started wrestling" with one of the officers, who called for backup. Another deputy helped subdue Gates by "falling on the suspect" and holding him; during the struggle Gates suffered a "half-inch laceration." Last July a jury did not buy this story, finding Gates not guilty of felony unlawful flight after deliberating for less than half an hour—"one of the speediest acquittals in St. Tammany in recent memory," according to WWL-TV, the CBS affiliate in New Orleans. Here are some of the details that may have given the jurors pause:

1. Twenty minutes before the traffic stop, Gates—who supposedly had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.273 percent, more than three times the legal limit—bought the brand new Pontiac GTO he was driving at a car dealership in Slidell, about 17 minutes away. 

2. "The medical reports showing the blood test have mysteriously disappeared."

3. "An expert witness said the chase actually lasted for only six-tenths of a mile and 80 seconds."

4. "Gates, who weighs 145 pounds, was handcuffed and pepper-sprayed by two deputies, each weighing more than 200 pounds."

5. "His so-called 'minor injuries' required two surgeries and 27 stitches, and he is awaiting another one to repair nerve damage to his face. Meanwhile, the deputies didn't suffer a single scratch."

6. "The deputy who stopped Gates…admitted he later resigned from the sheriff's office after he was found guilty of violating several departmental rules, including falsifying testimony and sleeping on the job."

7. "The deputy who caused Gates' injuries…has since been demoted from detective for an unspecified violation."

Gates, who denies drinking that day, says the deputies threw him against the hood of a police car and handcuffed him, then began beating him because he lifted his face off the hood, which was uncomfortably hot. Summarizing his account, WWL-TV says "he was first pepper-sprayed, then thrown to the asphalt where a deputy repeatedly pounded his face into the pavement," which is how he got "a snaking laceration that almost tore off [his] left eyelid."

Gates' lawyer says last summer's trial, nearly six years after the incident, was part of an effort to obstruct the civil rights lawsuit that Gates filed in 2007. Still to come: a trial for driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest, charges based on the same dubious tale a jury already has unanimously rejected. "It would be in the best interest of the sheriff's office to have a resisting arrest conviction in a matter where there was a civil case," a lawyer for the office conceded during the first trial. "I know that everything we have done in this case has been ethical and appropriate," says St. Tammany Sheriff Jack Strain. "We look forward to having the evidence presented at the defendant's trial."

[Thanks to Richard Feldman for the tip.]

NEXT: Obama's Middle-Class Mandate, Shirtless Agent Also Clueless?, Public Pension Debate: P.M. Links

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Did anything else happen?

  2. After the initial aquittal, 1,387 dogs were shot over the course of a two-day killing spree.

  3. I think it is important that anyone traveling to Louisiana understands that you NEVER do anything to piss off a cop down there.

    1. That is good advice for any state. Some places here ( La) are worse than others of course, but for the most part if you dont cop an attitude ( yeah, I know) they are no worse than anywhere else.

      Rule of thumb – Sheriff’s deputies easiest to deal with, State Troopers ok, Municipal cops are bad news.

      1. as a general rule of thumb, i believe it’s a moral imperative to treat people with respect. period. it’s the right thing to do. it’s really that simple

        ime with cops, the ONE time i was treated disrespectfully, i first treated them disrespectfully. there’s a lesson there.

        cops should be treated with respect because they are fellow human beings, not because they are cops. the added bonus that you will likely be treated better by them if you treat them with respect is just that… a bonus

        1. I’m not a rabid cop-hater, but the two times my rights were flagrantly violated by the police (which isn’t excusable even if I’m rude/disrespectful to them), I hadn’t done anything wrong and wasn’t disrespectful.

          Episode 1. Riding home from a trip to Key West on my motorcycle I was stopped on a lonely stretch of highway in the middle of the night for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Cop requested to search my bike’s bags, I refused permission. Cop having already handcuffed me and plopped me on the shoulder (for his safety of course), fetches his K-9 and does a sniff check. Dog (beautiful and boisterously friendly malinois BTW) trots around my bike only pausing briefly to give an extra sniff to the areas of the bike the officer pointed to. Officer tells me the dog “alerted” and proceeds to rip everything out of my bags and throws the things on the side of the road. He then pushes the bike off its sidestand and drops it (hard) on the crash bar to “search” the underside. Nothing found officer roughly yanks me to my feet, uncuffs me, and gets in his car and drives off leaving me to repack my stuff in pitch blackness.


          1. Episode 2: Refuse search of my truck to officer who demands (not asks) permission to search because of the rifle in the window rack. Proceeds to search anyway, when I get out my cell phone to call dispatch and demand a supervisor, get thrown on the hood, phone broken, cuffed and pushed into back of cruiser (which officer then turns off, cutting the AC). He proceeds to search my truck. After getting me out of cruiser I demand a supervisor. One comes, blue wall goes up. Sup offers me the complaint line. Speak to Sheriff, complaint goes nowhere.

            So honestly, you can take your respect line and shove it. There are plenty of very good cops out there who put up with a mountain of shit from belligerent shitheads, but the assholes who get “rights violatey” because a citizen “dissed” them should be required to seek alternate employment.

        2. Yes, they should be. However, EVERYBODY gets treated disrespectfully from time to time, and we don’t get to do evil with impunity like cops do. And make no mistake, that’s why many cops take the job. Also, much of what police do is illegal, but as they are the ones charged with enforcing the law they get away with it. Sorry, but the legal system is a vile cesspool of evil and corruption, and the police are the enthusiastic vanguard of it.

        3. I once got caught up in a hassle with the cops over some totally minor, non violent shit. After questioning me the cops lied in their affidavits and perjured themselves and contradicted each other during a hearing to get their testimony thrown out. The county judge was too much of a spineless pussy to make a ruling. If I had been able to get a recording, like the punkass pigs at the time assured they were doing, I would have been fine. Might have even ended up a stack happier after I sued their asses.

          Dunphy has stated before that he knows how easy it would be to lie in court even though he claims he doesn’t do it. Then he also knows how easy it is for his fine brothers to do so.

  4. Still to come: a trial for driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest,

    If the medical records of his blood test have disappeared, I believe there is exactly no (zip, zero, nada) admissable evidence of his BAC. All they would have would be witness testimony by the cops. Who can, BTW, be impeached because of the civil lawsuit and their interest in getting a conviction here to use there.

    I look forward to the day when I no longer need my license to make a living. I think my hobby will be filing unethical conduct complaints against prosecutors.

    1. There used to be a lawyer in Jonesville who did just that. He made a ton of money in Oil and gas, then became a professional pain in the ass for the 7th district.

      They eventually got enough and made his life a living hell. He became a chronic alcoholic. The SOB once tricked me into helping him escape from a psych ward. Ugh. Poor bastard died broken and alone.

      If you come to the point of not needing your license to make a living RC, do yourself a favor and go fishing. Or hell, come down here and hunt. We have great hunting.

      Living well is the best revenge.

  5. Trying him twice? So Louisiana prosecutors missed the class on the Fifth Amendment?

    1. Naw, the first trial was for unlawful flight.

      This one is for resisting arrest and DWI.

      Its kosher, although why they didn’t try them all at once is a mystery, unless they wanted to keep a backup charge in case they lost the first one.

      1. If they try each charge separately then they get to figure out which lies worked and which ones didn’t in the previous trials. Thus improving their chances of obtaining a wrongful conviction in the subsequent trials.

      2. “..they wanted to keep a backup charge in case they lost the first one.”


  6. “I know that everything we have done in this case has been ethical and appropriate,” says St. Tammany Sheriff Jack Strain. “We look forward to having the evidence presented at the defendant’s trial.”


    1. i have heard that LA remains a place where police corruption and brutality is common

      stories like this tend to bolster that belief

      1. Untrue. It is no different here than anywhere else. NYC, Atlanta, Dallas….take your pick. This place is like a libertarian heaven compared to those cesspools.
        Ok, I admit we have New Orleans….dont go there.

        1. sorry, i don’t buy it. for example, NYC ime and others i know who live there has a damn good pd.

          1. Wow Dunphy….Stop and frisk? I dont even know what to say to that. The stories of corruption and brutality that come out about NYCPD are legion. I doubt you can find as many cases in La in ten years as you can find in a week there.

            1. Don’t get him started on his ridiculous beliefs about Stop and Frisk.

              1. Constitution, shmonstitution.

            2. I was in Giuliani/Bloomberg city for three days, one time, and got harassed in the subway.

              New York has gangs of pigs go around arresting people for “quality of life” horseshit.

  7. why they didn’t try them all at once is a mystery

    It COULDN’T be because they are trying to bankrupt him.

  8. St. Tammany Sheriff Jack Strain is a violent gang boss with a badge. Piece of shit should be removed from elected office and convicted.

    1. Lemme guess: In his last election, he received over 70% of the vote, if he wasn’t unopposed due to unfortunate accidents happening to potential challengers.

      1. I don’t know. I just like to use public parasites’ names and titles very specifically in my comments criticizing them for the chance that they will search for their name on Google and read my comment.

        1. For what purpose? They don’t care.
          They’re the ones with power, not you.
          They don’t give a shit what you think. It’s not like you can act upon it.
          They’re the ones who can act. If that sheriff felt so inclined he could sent a group of armed thugs to your house and have you and your family beaten before arresting everyone and then denying medical treatment. They’d happily beat children with a smile. It’s not like they would face any consequences. They don’t give a shit. They have power.

          But he won’t because you’re just little people. You’re nobody.

  9. At least we can be sure that the men who did this to him will live long and happy lives, free from any consequence for their actions, smiling broad smiles as they think back to what they did to this man and the countless others who failed to show them sufficient respect.

    There is no karma or justice in this world.


    1. jesus dood. talk about cynicism. do you REALLY believe this?

      as for this case, hopefully the feds will stick their noses in and get some stiff sentences for the copthugs.

      1. The federal statute of limitations is 5 years. This incident happened in 2006. They have not been, and will not be, punished by the state or locality. They still have their jobs.

        As far as I can see, sarcasmic is 100% correct.

        1. as far as i can see, sarcasmic is deluded in this regards.

          there is plenty of justice in the world, and cops (which is his big hard-on ever since he was lawfully convicted of a crime when he was younger and he has this belief t hat there was massive malfeasance in regards to an issue of damage to vehicle and who had to pay in a DUI) are far from free and clear from prosecution when they do wrong. heck, i’ve had two good friends (cops) prosecuted in the last 4 yrs. both were acquitted btw. both were also innocent, but i digress.

          1. both were also innocent, but i digress.

            Yes. I’m sure they were. They always are. Like I said… no justice or karma.

          2. You mistake is in conflating lawfully with justly. The “law” is intentionally unjust, and you know it.

  10. You know how sometimes when people know they’re getting away with something, they wink? It looks to me like he is winking – ergo, guilty.

  11. The vast majority of cops everywhere are corrupt thugs. That is why they became cops.

  12. “six-tenths of a mile and 80 seconds.”

    60mph is a mile a minute. Six-tenths of a mile in 80 seconds is 6/10 miles / (4/3) minute = 0.45 miles a minute = 27mph.

    That’s a “high speed” chase?

  13. Does anyone else find it amusing that the place is called “St. Tammany”?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.