Cops and Prosecutors Caught Lying by Cell Phone Video

Another day, another video that shows police officers to have lied on a police report. But there’s a twist this time: Two prosecutors also lied. And they did it to set up a guy who was serving lawsuit papers on an officer for a previous incident of police brutality. The story is pretty remarkable. Here’s the setup:

One of the worst days of Douglas Dendinger’s life began with him handing an envelope to a police officer…

The handoff went smoothly, but Dendinger said the reaction from Cassard, and a group of officers and attorneys clustered around him, turned his life upside down.

“It was like sticking a stick in a bee’s nest.” Dendinger, 47, recalled. “They started cursing me. They threw the summons at me. Right at my face, but it fell short. Vulgarities. I just didn’t know what to think. I was a little shocked.”

Not knowing what to make of the blow-up, a puzzled Dendinger drove home. That’s where things went from bad to worse.

“Within about 20 minutes, there were these bright lights shining through my windows. It was like, ‘Oh my God.’ I mean I knew immediately, a police car.”

“And that’s when the nightmare started,” he said. “I was arrested.”

He was booked with simple battery, along with two felonies: obstruction of justice and intimidating a witness, both of which carry a maximum of 20 years in prison. Because of a prior felony cocaine conviction, Dendinger calculated that he could be hit with 80 years behind bars as a multiple offender…

Supported by two of his prosecutors who were at the scene, Reed formally charged Dendinger. Both prosecutors, Julie Knight and Leigh Anne Wall, gave statements to the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office implicating Dendinger.

With the bill of information, Dendinger’s attorney Philip Kaplan said he got a bad feeling.

“It wasn’t fun and games,” Kaplan said. “They had a plan. The plan was to really go after him a put him away. That’s scary.”

The case file that was handed to Reed and his office was bolstered by seven witness statements given to Washington Parish deputies, including the two from Reed’s prosecutors.

In her statement to deputies, contained in a police report, Knight stated, “We could hear the slap as he hit Cassard’s chest with an envelope of papers…This was done in a manner to threaten and intimidate everyone involved.”

Casssard, in his statement, told deputies, Dendinger “slapped me in the chest.”

Washington Parish court attorney Pamela Legendre said “it made such a noise,” she thought the officer “had been punched.”

Police Chief Culpepper gave a police statement that he witnessed the battery, but in a deposition he said, “I wasn’t out there.” But that didn’t stop Culpepper from characterizing Dendinger’s actions as “violence, force.”

And then the video:

What the officers and attorneys did not know was that Dendinger had one critical piece of evidence on his side: grainy cell phone videos shot by his wife and nephew. Dendinger said he thought of recording the scene at the last minute as a way of showing he had completed the task of serving the summons.

In the end, the two videos may have saved Dendinger from decades in prison. From what can be seen on the clips, Dendinger never touches Cassard, who calmly takes the envelope and walks back into the courthouse, handing Wall the envelope.

“He’d still be in a world of trouble if he didn’t have that film,” said David Cressy, a friend of Dendinger who once served as a prosecutor under Reed. “It was him against all of them. They took advantage of that and said all sorts of fictitious things happened. And it didn’t happen. It would still be going like that had they not had the film.”…

Now the video is at the heart of a federal civil rights lawsuit against Reed, his two prosecutors Wall and Knight, the Bogalusa officers and Washington Parish Sheriff Randy “Country’ Seal.

The suit seeks unspecified damages for a host of alleged Constitutional violations: false arrest, false imprisonment, fabricated evidence, perjury, and abuse of due process.

WWL-TV reached out to the defendants for comment, but only Sheriff Seal responded with a statement. He said, “We are confident that all claims against all WPSO deputies will be rejected and dismissed by the court.”

Goyeneche said the legal troubles for some of the witnesses may go beyond the federal lawsuit.

“It’s a felony to falsify a police report. And this is a police report. And this police report was the basis of charging this individual with serious crimes,” Goyeneche said.

Cressy, who in addition to working under Reed served as the Mandeville city attorney for 15 years, said the lawyers involved in the case may have additional problems with legal ethics and the bar association.

“It was totally wrong, a 180-degree lie” Cressy said. “So, yeah, they’re going to have problems, certainly the lawyers.”

If we had a real criminal justice system, all of the police officers and the attorneys would be charged with filing a police report and obstruction of justice and the attorneys would be fired and disbarred. But even if this man wins the lawsuit, it’s unlikely that the officers will face any criminal charges or that the attorneys will face any serious sanction from the bar association.

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  • psweet

    Forget filing a false police report — why isn’t knowingly arresting and charging someone with a crime that never happened tantamount to aggravated assault and kidnapping?

  • barry21

    How many times does this happen without repercussions? How many people are in prison right now for pissing off cops?

  • Holms

    If we had a real criminal justice system…

    I guess you’ll have to content yourself with a criminal justice system instead. If ya get my drift…

  • David C Brayton

    This is terrible and everyone involved should be prosecuted and/or disbarred.

    But what really has me baffled is why he did this. The lawsuit wasn’t going to magically disappear because the process server assaulted the defendant.

    It’s been really difficult to understand why people would so quickly risk their careers to support this bald face lie that was totally pointless.

  • Modusoperandi

    I’m stunned and disgusted that this filth would attack a police officer with a summons! That cop could’ve gotten a paper cut! Sure, it didn’t happen this time, but what about the next time? And what if it’s got a staple?!

  • hoku

    @ David Brayton

    The only thing I could think of was that maybe they wanted to pretend to have never been served. But then they testified that he slapped them with the papers. I think their reasoning never extended beyond, “we’ll show him.”

  • hoku

    I just saw the video, and apparently they waited a full year to bring charges. So they had a year to think this over and decided, “yeah, this is a good idea.”

    Then they prosecuted him for another year, before they were forced to recuse themselves, and the charges were dropped.

  • barry21

    Criminal conspiracy to shoot the messenger. Elegant behavior.

  • gopiballava

    It’s interesting to note that the huge increase in video recordings of events has demonstrated that flying saucers are much less common than many believed, and that lying police are much more common.

  • marcus

    Oh come on! He was asking for it. He simply couldn’t resist the thrill, the adrenaline rush, of walking up to a group armed and arrogant police officers and roughly smacking one in the chest with a sheaf of papers. Often I’ll walk by a little clutch of the beauties and just hawk a loogie in their general direction. Now that’s some fun!

  • Modusoperandi

    marcus, that’s pathetic. If you were a real thrill seeker like me, you’d stroll in to the center of a group of pigeons and pretend you’re a statue!

  • comfychair

    Sadly, the only remarkable part of the story is the existence of the video. Similar shit happens every single day. As a prosecutor once told me, “We can do anything we want.”

  • laurentweppe

    How many times does this happen without repercussions?

    As many times as it gets for a majority of the population to know personally a victim of such abuses of power. You know you’ve reached that threshold when you start seeing demagogues being cheered for telling their audience that they want to slaughter the upper-class and its enforcers.

  • Crimson Clupeidae

    I’ll just leave this here….

  • D. C. Sessions

    “We are confident that all claims against all WPSO deputies will be rejected and dismissed by the court.”

    Translation: “the fix is in.”

    Bear in mind that Dendinger may not be spending the rest of his life in prison, but he is undoubtedly bankrupt from the legal expenses. That, and spending the rest of his life with a bull’s eye painted on his back.

  • Chester Chest

    *trigger warning*

    I was stopped by police in Austin Texas in 2009, they insisted I was under the influence and put me in hand cuffs and dragged me to a local hospital where they drew blood and asked for a urine sample. I told them I was unable to do that as my bladder was empty. They treated it as a refusal and a short while later the two cops that had taken me there cam in and pinned me to a gurney and a male nurse forced a catheter into me. After retrieving less than 2 oz of urine they put restraints on my wrists and ankles with my arms over my head, hanging me there with my weight on my wrists. Hours passed and I didn’t hear anything. Fact of the matter is, I was not under the influence of anything and the testing they did showed that. Not having anything to charge me with they left and I remained there in that hospital, restrained, no food, no water for 48 hours. It wasn’t until my family started looking for me that I was released. I was there 72 hours total and was only given a meal and a small cup of cold tea just before I was released. The hospital was apologetic, but did stick me with a $10,000 bill for rush drug screening about a month later. I’ve contacted the department and Austin PD has NO record of this incident.