Bossier City Police arrest Cassius Gay (photo taken from dash cam video)
Police arrested 37 year old Cassius Gay of Benton, Louisiana after they were called to Margaritaville Casino Sunday evening in reference to a disorderly intoxicated man. (Source: Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office)
On the evening of May 10, 2015, two Bossier City Police units responded to a call of a drunk and disorderly person at Margaritaville Resort Casino. They found Cassius Gay standing outside. Casino employees were watching him. The two officers approach him, and there is a struggle before Gay is arrested and put into a police car. The story of this arrest is one KSLA News 12 has followed since 2015 of the incident after a taxi driver captured video of the tense moments on his cell phone.
The results of that night led to Gay suing the city of Bossier City, its police department and specifically Officers Sean Bandy and Kevin Wooten. Gay accuses them of Conspiracy, Assault and Battery, False Imprisonment, and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress.
Through public records requests, KSLA obtained the dash cam video of that night from multiple angles.
Gay's nine-page lawsuit reads he was forced to leave Margaritaville and was attempting to call a friend for a ride home.
The dash cam video shows Officers Wooten and Bandy approach Gay and ask him about his options for returning to his home.
"Do you have somebody to call?" one of them asked.
"Why don't you just take that cab home?" asked the other.
The lawsuit alleges "Bandy grabbed the left arm of Gay and Wooten grabbed the right arm of Gay, while Gay was attempting to make a phone call, and pulled Gay's arms behind his back."
But before that, the video shows one of the officers issuing Gay a warning.
"That's your last time of me telling you to take your hand out of your pocket. You hear me? Don't do it again," one of them told Gay.
Moments later, both Bandy and Wooten approach Gay, pull his arms and tell him to put them behind his back.
"Hey, Look! Hey, Look!" Gay is heard shouting.
The dash cam video shows a struggle ensues between the three, showing Gay trying to pull away from the officers and them pulling him back.
"I don't give a @#$!" Gay is heard yelling. "Hey! Hey! Hey!"
The video then shows one of the officers slamming an arm under Gay's chin, knowing his cap off. The lawsuit claims this officer was Wooten.
Eventually, both Bandy and Wooten put Gay on the ground.
"You let them do it! You let them do it!" Gay is heard yelling as he lies face-down on the ground with Bandy and Wooten holding him there.
"Stop resisting, man!" One of the officers then yells.
"I ain't resist!" Gay yells back.
According to the lawsuit, "Bandy and Wooten used excessive force in hand-cuffing Gay, who was not advised prior to the physical attack by Bandy and Wooten as to why he was being arrested or taken into custody the officers used excessive force handcuffing Gay ... never informing him why he was being arrested or taken into custody."
The video shows Gay brought to a sitting position and he begins shouting again.
"Calm down!" One of the officers yells. "Calm down!"
"I don't give a @#$!" Gay yells.
In the video, the officers then start bringing Gay to the police unit. Once there, the video shows one of the officers shoving Gay onto the hood of the car, holding his neck down.
"Stop resisting!" The officer yells.
"Hey! I ain't gonna hurt you! I ain't gonna hurt you!" Gay yells.
After Gay is forced onto the hood of the car, he's taken out of the camera's view but we can still hear the next exchange.
"Get in the car," one of the officers said.
"Hey, look!" Gay shouts.
"Get in the car!" One officer repeats.
We hear another curse and then Gay speaking again.
"What are you going to do?" He asked.
"I'm going to mace you," one of the officers replied.
"Why are you going to spray me for?" Gay asked.
"Get in the car," the officer repeats.
According to Gay's lawsuit, "Bandy and/or Wooten sprayed Gay in the face several times with chemical spray."
"Get in the car or you're gonna get it again!" one of the officers is heard yelling in the video.
Gay does not respond to the officers but we do hear coughing in the video
A second dash cam angle shows Gay being placed in the car, while outside, we can hear the officers talk about what happened.
"He hit me, like, in the shoulder with his arm so I hit him in the mouth," one officer said.
Less than three minutes after Gay is put in the car, the Bossier City Fire Department arrives to medically assess him.
Gay is heard crying out in pain from the police unit.
"Allow them to help you. Please, sir. It's for your own good. They're here for you," someone at the scene is heard saying to Gay.
The video shows Gay step out of the car and ask for help.
"My eye, man!" Gay said.
"It's not your eye," we hear someone else say.
Firefighters place Gay on a gurney and he's taken to University Health.
After that, the lawsuit reads Gay was booked into Bossier City Jail for Battery of a Police Officer, Resisting Arrest and Disturbing the Peace Drunk.
"It looked like a two-on-one wrestling match in the parking lot," said Gay's attorney, Lyn Lawrence, who states in the lawsuit his client's 14th Amendment rights for equal protection under the law were violated.
The lawsuit also alleges Gay was deprived of his civil rights.
"The officers didn't use proper training technique in arresting Mr. Gay but the video speaks for itself," said Lawrence.
The lawsuit also alleges multiple times that Gay did not resist but he is seen trying to pull away and is seen cursing around the officers.
KSLA asked Lawrence what his definition of resisting is.
"Well, there were two officers and Mr. Gay. Each officer has a gun, a taser and handcuffs. Mr. Gay was no threat to them at that point in time," Lawrence responded. "Once he was taken down, they continued to use force in order to arrest him which was totally unnecessary."
The city's six-page response to the lawsuit argues the officers did not break the law and did not violate any constitutional rights.
It claims the officers are entitled to "Qualified Immunity" which, according to the FBI, states "Government Officials performing discretionary functions generally are shielded from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known."
Gay's lawsuit alleges his constitutional rights were violated but the response claims the officers never violated or deprived Gay's civil rights and that his lawsuit is barred because he entered a guilty plea for his charges.
KSLA did some more digging into Bossier Parish District Court records which show Gay pleaded Not Guilty to Resisting Arrest and Battery of a Police Officer and both of those charges were dropped.
Gay did plead guilty to Disturbing the Peace Drunk and was placed on 90-days probation.
As far as the current state of the officers, Bossier City Public Information Officer Mark Natale gave KSLA this statement last year:
"The Bossier City Police Department has initiated an internal investigation regarding this arrest after the person who took the video filed a complaint with the police department this morning. The investigation will determine if reasonable force was utilized to overcome the resistance of the suspect and effect the arrest in accordance with departmental policy."
Gay is seeking monetary damages from the city for what his attorney maintains is police excessive force.
"The law doesn't afford us an opportunity to go back and re-fix my busted lip and busted eye and busted head. All they can do is repair me with money damages," said Lawrence.
A federal jury trial for Gay's lawsuit has officially been set for September 18th, 2017 at 9 a.m.
KSLA also reached out to Cook, Yancey, King & Galloway, the law firm representing Bossier City, but they did not return our calls.
Gay's is not the only lawsuit that one of the two Bossier City Officers faces.
Our KSLA investigators uncovered another federal trial for Officer Wooten, this time being sued by Eusebio Sanchez from Karnack, Texas.
Sanchez's lawsuit reads in April of 2015, one month before Gay's encounter, Officer Wooten and other Bossier City Officers used excessive force arresting him inside Margaritaville, taking him down to the ground and breaking his ankle.
Sanchez is suing Wooten, Bossier City, Officer Jeremy Nelson, Margaritaville Security Officer Curtis Gleason and Bossier Casino Venture, Inc. on the grounds of False Arrest, Excessive Use of Force, Use of Force Policy by Margaritaville Casino, Respondeat Superior and Force under State Law by Nelson, Wooten and Gleason.
Sanchez is also suing on the grounds of Use of Force and Arrest, Policy and Practice by City of Bossier City and Respondeat Superior False Arrest and Use of Force and First Amendment, Public Accommodations, Race and Retaliation.
That trial has also been set for September 18th, 2017 at 9 a.m., the same day as Wooten's trial for Gay's lawsuit.