Eric Parsa, right, died on January 19 last year (Picture: The Cochran Firm)
The parents of a 16-year-old boy with autism who died after being ‘pinned down for nine minutes’ during his arrest are suing the police.
Donna Lou and Daren Parsa, from New Orleans, Louisiana, claim cops used ‘unreasonable and excessive force’ against their son Eric when they arrested him on January 19 last year.
They’ve launched a lawsuit against the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office almost a year to the day of the incident with police officers outside a local shopping mall.
According to the family’s lawsuit, Eric’s was held down on his stomach, handcuffed with his arms and legs held down and his ‘head, shoulder and neck encircled by the arm of a deputy’, reports WDSU.
The family claims that an officer pinned their son to the ground in the prone position for nine minutes and six seconds, in which time Eric is said to have suffered an acute sensory episode or ‘outburst’ related to and caused by his severe autism.
The family said there were several moments in that time frame where Eric was calm and not resisting arrest, their lawsuit claims.
Eric’s parents claim police used ‘excessive force’ (Picture: The Cochran Firm)
His parents also allege that Eric was kept on his stomach until he urinated on himself, and only then did he get moved to ‘a recovery position’ by attending cops.
The lawsuit says that the Jefferson Parish coroner identified Eric’s cause of death as ‘excited delirium due to an acute psychotic episode in the setting of severe autistic spectrum disorder and disruptive behavior disorder’.
Contributing factors to his death included morbid obesity with prone positioning and cardiomegaly, the coroner said, who classified Eric’s death as an ‘accident’.
Several Jefferson police officers were named in the family’s lawsuit including the force’s sheriff, Joseph Lopinto. The others named are Chad Pitfield, Ryan Vaught, Steven Mehrtens, Shannon Guidry, Nick Vega, Manuel Estrade and Myron Gaudet. Others who were not named were referenced as ‘John Doe deputies 1-3’.
The lawsuit claims Sheriff Lopinto failed to conduct a proper investigation of the incident, and that the named and unnamed deputies used ‘unreasonable and excessive force’ during the arrest.
Eric died after an incident where deputies tried to arrest him for ‘violently biting his father’ and one of the deputies in Metairie, according to the original police report.
Eric’s family announced the lawsuit earlier this week (Picture: The Cochran Firm)
Sheriff Lopinto said at the time of the incident that an officer was called to investigate a report of a man attacking another man, and found the victim, a 53-year-old man, suffering from multiple bite wounds, including some to his face, and abrasions.
The victim’s 16-year-old son, Eric, was detained on the scene in connection with the attack.
Investigators said at the time of the incident that Eric presented as violent while deputies attempted to arrest him.
Police claim the boy suffered an apparent medical emergency during the arrest and became unresponsive.
Eric was taken to a local hospital, where he later died.
The family is asking for damages including covering for funeral fees, burial, and attorney fees.
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