Dog owners get $75K in pact over deputy’s canine killing
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The owners of a dog that was shot and killed by a Louisiana sheriff’s deputy will receive $75,000 in a settlement of their lawsuit against a sheriff who has had legal troubles.
The settlement isn’t an “admission of liability” by Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal and Deputy Lucas Plauche, says the March 26 release signed by the dog’s owners, Teddy Sonnier and his son, Brance.
Plauche’s body camera captured part of his August 2015 encounter with the large dog, a 2-year-old Presa Canario breed named Tank. The video captured Plauche saying, “Dog, you’re about the die, you understand me? You’re about to die,” before chuckling.
But it ends before the deputy shot the dog in the Sonniers’ yard. The suit claimed Plauche and another deputy “purposefully” turned off their body cameras before the shooting.
The incident began when a neighbor called 911 to report the loose dog. The dog barked at the officers but wasn’t growling or acting aggressively toward them, the lawsuit said. The sheriff’s lawyer, however, said in a February 2017 court filing that the deputy shot the dog after it leapt at him.
The lawsuit said Plauche had been at the scene for nearly an hour before he killed Tank and could have employed non-lethal methods to restrain the dog. An animal control officer was also at the scene with a “catch pole” but didn’t use it, the suit said.
Teddy Sonnier, 58, of New Iberia, said he and his son sued “in the hopes of maybe making them think twice before they did this to another dog.”
“It was never about money for me and no money would ever bring my dog back,” he said in an email Tuesday.
The sheriff’s office fired Plauche for his “untruthfulness” in an unrelated incident that occurred on the same day of Tank’s shooting.
Ackal and an attorney representing him and Plauche didn’t immediately respond to telephone calls seeking comment.
The suit said Ackal’s office has a “custom of tolerating” officers unreasonably using deadly force against loose dogs.
In 2016, Ackal was acquitted of federal criminal charges that accused him of ordering the beatings of parish jail prisoners and orchestrating a brazen cover-up. Ten deputies pleaded guilty to related charges in a case that led to several civil lawsuits.
Earlier last month, a settlement agreement resolved a federal lawsuit against Ackal over the shooting death of a man, Victor White III, whose hands were cuffed behind his back when he died in the rear of a patrol car. A coroner ruled that White shot himself in the chest after his drug-related arrest in March 2014, but a federal magistrate judge said in an October 2017 ruling that the manner of White’s death hadn’t been “conclusively established.”