Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal and Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Savoy were charged today with civil rights violations in the April 29, 2011 beatings of five pre-trail detainees at the Iberia Parish Jail.
Ackal and Savoy are the most recent and highest ranking members of the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office to be linked to the assault of the detainees in custody at the Iberia Parish Jail. The incident started out as a contraband sweep of the jail and resulted in the detainees being taken to the jail chapel, an area where there is no video surveillance, and beaten by the officers with fists and batons.
Eight deputies from the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office have previously pled guilty to either participating in the inmate assault or witnessing the incident and not intervening. The deputies then fabricated stories to cover up the beatings and prevent further investigation into their actions. Jason Comeaux, a deputy with the IPSO since 2008, stated in his confession that the assault of Anthony Daye (one of the five detainees) was at the behest of a ‘high ranking IPSO official’. Curtis Ozenne, one of the detainees, stated in an interview that it was Sheriff Ackal who directed the deputies to take him to the chapel. “He told the deputies and the warden to bring me to a secluded area and teach me a lesson,” Ozenne said “He’s the head. He’s the one the finger should be pointed at. He’s the orchestrator and dictator of what was going on at the jail.”
Sheriff Ackal, formerly with the State Police, promised to bring reform and professionalism to the Sheriff’s office when he was running for office in 2008. He is being charged with one count of conspiracy against rights and two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law. Lieutenant Colonel Savoy is charged with one count of conspiracy against rights and one count of deprivation of rights under color of law.
If convicted, they face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each of the civil rights violations, as well as a potential $250,000 fine for each count.