The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office arrested one of its lieutenants Thursday on allegations that he beat up a handcuffed defendant in plain view of co-workers and a bystander.
William Holmes, 38, faces counts of simple battery and malfeasance in office following the alleged March 1 attack.
That day, Sheriff’s Office deputies providing security at Criminal District Court took 32-year-old Cornell Eugene into custody after he failed a drug and alcohol test given to him as part of his probation.
Eugene allegedly resisted when Deputy Darren Vicknair first tried to handcuff him, and Holmes and others approached to help move the defendant to a lobby outside Judge Franz Zibilich’s courtroom.
There, Holmes is accused of striking the handcuffed Eugene in the face and head as well as from behind. Eugene was not being combative or resisting at that point, said documents filed in court, which cited accounts from both Sheriff’s Office staff and an “independent witness” nearby.
Holmes was transferred to a post that didn’t bring him into contact with inmates as the agency investigated the incident.
Deputies booked Holmes about 4:30 p.m. Thursday. By 5:10 p.m., he had been released from custody on a recognizance bond set by on-duty Magistrate Court Commissioner Jonathan Friedman.
The Sheriff’s Office said Holmes now has been suspended from his job without pay, pending the outcome of administrative disciplinary proceedings that had been opened against him.
A report from The Lens noted that Holmes was arrested in Jefferson Parish in 2011 after his wife accused him of threatening her with a handgun in the presence of their children.
Holmes said his wife was the aggressor, and both were listed as both witnesses and suspects in the case, The Lens reported. It was not immediately clear Thursday how that matter was resolved.
At least a half-dozen Sheriff’s Office deputies have been arrested on various criminal counts in the last several months. The allegations ranged from smuggling drugs into the jail to sitting idly by as prisoners were beaten by a fellow inmate in the back of a transport van.
The Sheriff’s Office has struggled for years with various problems, including frequent violence at the jail and high turnover among deputies in the face of poor pay and low morale.
Simple battery is a misdemeanor that can bring up to six months in prison as well as a maximum fine of $1,000. Malfeasance in office can carry up to five years in prison and a maximum $5,000 fine.