DeSOTO PARISH, La. (KSLA) — Exclusive video obtained by KSLA Investigates in 2020 shows a DeSoto sheriff’s deputy allegedly using excessive force against two suspects in two separate incidents.
A grand jury indicted Deputy Jason Allgrunn for malfeasance in office, which is a felony carrying a possible five-year sentence. But KSLA Chief Investigative Reporter Stacey Cameron reports that a little more than a month before the trial, charges against that deputy were reduced to a misdemeanor.
Allgrunn has been on paid administrative leave since his indictment in 2019. The two use-of-force encounters at the heart of this case took place nearly a year apart in the fall of 2018 and 2019. Former DeSoto District Attorney Gary Evans took the videos and the case before a grand jury, getting a two-count indictment of malfeasance in office.
Evans was voted out of office before the case went to trial. Four months into the term of the new DA, Charlie Adams (who is a former DeSoto Parish judge) amended the grand jury’s bill of information, filing lesser charges of simple battery. A trial date of May 14 was set.
Now Allgrunn will stand for a bench trial, meaning a judge, not a jury will decide his fate; and he will only face 90 days in jail if convicted. That move is now raising some questions about the case.
KSLA Legal Analyst J. Antonio Florence says the D.A.’s move in this case raises a lot of questions.
“The D.A. is now stepping in and saying we’re not going to follow the grand jury’s decision,” said Florence. “It doesn’t look good, it doesn’t look right.”
KSLA spoke with the assistant district attorney in DeSoto Parish who’s trying the case against Allgrunn. He says the new, lesser crime of simple assault is the appropriate charge for which Allgrunn should be prosecuted.
Florence disagrees, saying a grand jury is supposed to be a non-biased citizen panel, and now D.A. Adam’s office has just re-inserted the perception of bias and politics back into the case.
“Now you’ve got a case that was a felony, a serious felony reduced down to a misdemeanor. What’s going to happen in that case, what’s going to happen to that officer? The D.A.’s office now cannot step back and say ‘Hey we were completely unbiased, we did the right thing.’ Because even if they legally did, it doesn’t look like they did.”