Iberia Parish sheriff Louis Ackal regularly encouraged detectives to enforce their own version of the law through violence and intimidation of Black residents, according to the testimony ex-narcotics detectives.
Ackal faces civil rights charges stemming from an investigation of abuse of power and countless cover-ups. He is accused of creating a culture of abuse where officers rarely feared discipline. Several former narcotics detectives poured into a Shreveport courtroom to testify against their former boss. Many of them admitted that abuse and excessive use of force were encouraged. In fact they were regular parts of their job.
According to The Advocate, testimony by former narcotics team member James Comeaux bolstered the prosecution’s key claim that not only did Ackal direct and/or approve the physical violence, but he was also physically present for the beatings at times.
Comeaux was one of several witnesses/participants put on the stand. The former detective testified to roaming Iberia Parish following a shooting and roughing up anyone they saw on the streets. He said some drunken off-duty narcotics agents had unnecessarily beaten up two Black men — which they called n–gger knockin’ — and were barely punished for it.
Comeaux said the narcotics team’s views Black residents as “animals…And they needed to be treated like animals…They knew if they got out there, they were going to get stopped and get dealt with,” Comeaux said.
He said the sheriff stood by and watched as he and two other deputies abused an inmate following a contraband sweep at the jail in 2011. The inmate was beaten in the jail’s chapel where there were no security cameras. When Comeaux told Ackal about an attempted cover-up, he reportedly responded, “F— that n—–. He got in a fight.”
Alkal’s case has shed light on the Iberia parish’s racial tensions where Black residents said they’ve long suffered violence at the hands of police officers.