Choose Your Truth

Episode 2

Published May 1, 2019

When Johnny Primeaux got stuck in traffic on his way to his pre-trial hearing in 2016, the district attorney, Keith Stutes, had been in office for one year.  Due to a complicated tax code and economic downturn in Big Oil the funding for public defenders was cut by $900 million across the state of Louisiana. That day, when Johnny showed up ten minutes late to his pre-trial hearing, the 15th JDC was $800 thousand in the red and they had to lay off half of their public defenders.  

“We are going to be in a situation that I think will be near catastrophic,” said Stutes. "Justice delayed is justice denied." 

It didn’t take long for the justice system in Louisiana to become gridlocked and the 15th JDC found themselves with a full blown constitutional crisis on their hands. Those who are accused of a crime but could not afford an attorney had their cases indefinitely postponed while they waited in jail until a public Defender from the DA’s office was available. The right to a speedy trial was diminished to a mere concept of law.

The gridlock inside the court system produced a ripple effect of negative impacts upon the Victims of a crime who also have the right to speedy closure. When justice is denied the accused waste away in limbo while the Victims wait for their own opportunity to present a case to the court. Justice was in short supply all the way around and the gears of justice won’t even budge when you’re the Victim of a crime unless you can afford an attorney. And if you deserve justice against a negligent cop in South Louisiana, well then, good luck finding any attorney at all.

The Lawyers who defend police officers from accusations of misconduct have no limits on how much money they are allowed to bill the taxpayers for their time.  Consequently, there are very few Victims of police negligence who can afford to compete financially. Luckily, the family of Quamaine Mason caught the attention of a local attorney named Jeffery Speer. Speer has a reputation for being passionate about making the world a more just and kinder place. He often donates his services, or works pro bo-no, for victims of police negligence. He is one of a very few attorneys who have the courage to “go there” in SoLa. The Mason Family have been seeking justice ever since their son, Quamaine, was shot and killed by Officer Martin Faul in 2011.

Quamaine was a criminal justice student who wore a legally exposed firearm while he trained to be a police officer. He didn’t know it at the time of his killing but Quamaine had been accepted to train with the Louisiana State Police. The facts in the case against Martin Faul, the officer who killed Quamaine, do not seem very complicated until lawyers get involved. Right now, Mason vs Faul is in its third (maybe fourth?) appeal.

The short order of facts in this case begin when Officer Faul responded to a disturbance call with two other officers. Witnesses approached Faul when he arrived at the scene but they were told to stay out of the way while he retrieved his K9. Then all three officers stormed down the breezeway of an apartment building unsure of exactly what the situation was. It was a disturbance call: Quamaine and his girlfriend were arguing over a lost puppy.

The officers ran from the parking lot into the breezeways and then they ran face to face into Quamaine Mason and his girlfriend. Both Quamaine and his girlfriend put their hands over their head- Officer Faul saw Quamaine’s legally exposed firearm and released his K9 while yelling, Gun! Gun! The dog lunged, snapping and snarling at Quamaine and he lowered his elbow to protect himself from the dog. Officer Faul was only six feet away from Quamaine when he began shooting, he continued to shoot after Quamaine was down and while the dog was still pulling at his body. Martin Faul pumped seven bullets into Quamaine that night, killing him, right there in the breezeway.

Video from officers body-cam show Quamaine’s girlfriend splattered with blood being lead from the scene, she is hysterical and screaming “Why did ya all shoot him? Why? Why did ya shoot?” The jury was not allowed to see that video during trial or hear expert testimony or see the re-enactment video that the Lafayette Police produced as evidence for their case. After realizing that their re-enactment video worked against them, the Lafayette Police asked the Judge not to accept the video into evidence. As I mentioned, the Jury was never given an opportunity to weigh in on any of that evidence for themselves.

Officer Faul claimed he felt threatened when Quamaine lowered his elbow, although, even Officer Faul admitted in testimony that he, himself, would have lowered his arm if the dog was attacking him.

 An eight-person jury was unanimous when they found Officer Martin Faul GUILTY of excessive and unreasonable use of lethal force thus being a violation of Quamaine’s constitutional rights and leaving the defendant(s) liable for damages.

Except ~ then the jury was given a second question: Can Officer Faul claim qualified Immunity? Which means that the defendant(s) would not be held liable for any damages that resulted from Officer Martin Faul’s excessive and unreasonable lethal actions.                                         

The jury was confused by the question and after several hours deliberating they came back dead locked. The judge ordered them to read the definition of ‘Qualified Immunity’ and to continue deliberating. When the jury returned the second time, they were still confused by the instructions. They asked for clarity regarding the implications of a ‘qualified immunity’. Again, they were ordered to continue deliberating. Finally, the tired and beaten down jury returned to the courtroom and shrugged their shoulders. They told the Judge - yeah, sure, Officer Faul’s excessive and unreasonable lethal actions could fall under a qualified immunity – yeah, sure, why not?

Mr Speer, legal counsel for Quamaine’s family, pointed out to the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that the law is clear, it says when an officer is found guilty for the violation of constitutional rights in an excessive and unreasonable lethal manner, they automatically become exempt from the protections of qualified immunity. Speer pointed out to the court that the second question to the jury was redundant and inconsistent with the law, it created a catch-22.

Officer Martin Faul is being represented in the case by Joy Rabalais, an attorney who works for Lafayette Consolidated Government. LCG is named as a defendant in the case and they are on the hook to pay damages to Quamaine’s family as soon as the courts get this all sorted out. Rabalais argued to the Appellate Court saying “if you took the dog out of the equation, none of this would have happened”. She believed the real legal question in the case was whether or not Officer Faul was allowed to release his dog and shoot his gun at the same time. [from six feet away with two officers as back up]

A judge on the court interjected and said, “Anyone who is attacked by an attack dog is going to move his arms” The judge also pointed out that “No other officer [at the scene] felt a need to deploy lethal force.”

Another judge on the court informed Rabalais that: for an officer to claim qualified immunity, the officer’s actions are allowed to be mistaken choices but they cannot be unreasonable ones.

Officer Martin Faul was found unanimously guilty for deploying excessive and unreasonable lethal force. As I mentioned, this case is being considered right now inside the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. If the court grants an appeal to the plaintiff’s, Mr Speer will be in court again to explain facts that are fairly simple to understand until – well, until lawyers get involved.

Choose your Truth.

*that which is in accordance with fact or reality.

-OR-

*a belief that is accepted as fact or true.

In 2016 a financial and Constitutional crisis hit the Lafayette 15th JDC and by then, Quamaine Mason had already been dead for five years. Right now, still today, his family is waiting for justice. Thankfully Mr Speer will not be satisfied until they have it.

While Quamaine’s family has to depend on the good graces of Jeffery Speer to obtain justice, Officer Faul is guaranteed an attorney no matter how much it costs the taxpayers. Perhaps LCG is spending half a million dollars defending Faul because they know Quamaine’s family are justified to receive multiple millions of dollars in damages. Perhaps it’s all about the money and justice has nothing to do with it.  

But that can’t be true. If it was all about the money then how do you explain the Witch Hunt in the City Marshall’s office?

I just can’t wrap my head around the reasons of how the 15th JDC can justify the cost of their Witch Hunt against Brian Pope, the on-hold City Marshall of Lafayette. It’s pretty obvious to everyone who pays attention to the political landscape in south Louisiana that Pope is being used as the whipping boy for one of Sheriff Garber’s tantrums.

If Chad Leger had won the 2015 Sheriff’s election instead of Mark Garber, I am positive that Brian Pope would still be conducting business in the City Marshall’s office. During the campaign, Pope was accused of using his City Marshall’s office for political gain after he tried to get Chad Leger elected. Then when Mark Garber won the election the accusations against Brian Pope turned into a full blown investigation which resulted in an indictment, charging him with malfeasance for using public funds and time for political purposes.

Brian Pope was found by Jury to be completely INNOCENT of the charge.

Unfortunately, the aggressive investigation against Pope has now resulted in at least 18 additional, albeit petty, felony charges. Luckily for Pope, he is an officer of the law with a right to tax paid legal representation. One member of his legal team is [was] Joy Rabalais, the same attorney who is currently representing Officer Martin Faul.

Can I beg a question here? How can the 15th JDC, together with LCG, justify a bottomless pit of attorney fees for both sides of Brian Pope’s Witch Hunt? Especially during the ongoing budget crisis?!

I just don’t get it.

Pope’s legal team has asked the judge for an acquittal because, let’s face it, this is a no-win situation. I bet even Sheriff Garber is tired of this Witch Hunt by now. And I’ll be selfish, I’d really like to be able to trust at least one cop in Louisiana and, there just aren’t any left from my perspective. On April 3rd, 2019, Judge David Smith delayed Pope’s sentencing so he could take more time to consider the acquittal. If Smith does not grant the acquittal, Brian’s legal team says they plan to appeal. If the acquittal is granted, the district attorney's office can appeal. The legal fees for Brian Pope’s defense have already cost over $350 thousand dollars and you know that the DA’s costs have to be at least that high.

Brian Pope’s supporters say he will be exonerated and afterward, Pope has promised to run against Mark Garber in the Sheriff’s election. Brian has always promised to run for Sheriff if Chad Leger lost his bid for the office and Brian Pope is a man of his word. On April 19th, Brian Pope finally broke his silence and admits to being humbled by the financial burdens that the Justice system levies on innocent people who are financially less fortunate than him.

Note: Nearly a million dollars of the tax payer’s money has been spent on this Witch Hunt. 

Choose your Truth.

*that which is in accordance with fact or reality.

-OR-

*a belief that is accepted as fact or true.

Breaking My Silence, by Brian L Pope

4-19-2019

As some of you may know, I’ve been fighting accusations of wrongdoing by some of my political opponents. As a longtime member of law enforcement who trusts our judicial system, I’ve always felt confident that justice would eventually prevail and so I’ve remained silent throughout this process.

With the courts most recent decision to postpone so that it can give full consideration to my motion of acquittal, it appears more likely that my name will soon finally be cleared once and for all.

I know that when I am reinstated as city Marshal I will return with a renewed sense of duty. Throughout this ordeal, one startling thought that l can’t seem to shake is, if they can do this to me, someone familiar with the justice system, a decorated member of law enforcement, an elected city marshal, then what can they do to the average person?

If I was a single mother, how could I prioritize spending tens of thousands of dollars fighting wrongful allegations over feeding my children?

If I was a business owner how could I prioritize paying my legal bills over paying my employees?

I have not and will not accept a plea deal for a crime I haven’t committed, but I can now more clearly understand how someone in a similar position could be wrongfully convicted or accept responsibility for a crime they didn’t commit. I’ve been placed on unpaid leave and have mounting legal bills. While many of the trumped up charges against me have been dropped, others are taking longer to resolve. I’m committed to seeing this through to the end. Right now my sole focus is seeking justice and returning to serve my community as city Marshal.

In closing, I’d like to thank all of you who have continued to hold my family and I in your prayers. I can assure you, they are working.

Next Chapter:  Choose Your Truth  Episode 3

Flashback: 2001: This website contains conclusions and opinions based on the truth of my experiences and understanding of the facts.

Short Cuts:

Rolling on the River: Part One   8/2018 Believe me, it was never my plan to include any of Todd Travasos' drama in my Story but that all changed after the Abbeville Police Department arrested him on his birthday, October 26, 2016. https://www.dawnmarcelle.com/rollin-on-the-river-1

Rolling on the River: Part Two   8/2018To be honest, I really was in a bind after Chief Hardy completely ignored Troy’s threats of terror. Here I was, 2200 miles away with the name and address of a self-proclaimed Cajun Terrorist with NOBODY to report to. https://www.dawnmarcelle.com/rollingontheriverparttwo

 Rolling on the River: Part Three   8/2018Honest question here: What do you think Brian Pope would be doing today if Chad Leger had won the 2015 sheriff election instead of Mark Garber? The answer is a simple one and it says a lot about what these Grand Jury indictments are made of. (Would you like fries with that ham sandwich?) https://www.dawnmarcelle.com/rollin-on-the-river-part-two

Rolling on the River: Part Four   8/2018 The jury found Pope completely innocent of that exaggerated charge, too, and then gave a collective eye-roll toward the prosecution, like, give us a break. https://www.dawnmarcelle.com/rollin-on-the-river-part-two-1

Choose your Truth: Episode One   5/2019 After Police Chief Tony Hardy threatened the whistle blowers I was forced to put the Primeaux chapter on ice until the dirty cops in Abbeville settled down.  I didn’t mention the name Primeaux to one single person until August, 2018. https://www.dawnmarcelle.com/choose-your-truth-ep-1

Choose your Truth: Episode Two   5/2019 That day, when Johnny showed up ten minutes late to his pre-trial hearing, the 15th JDC was $800 thousand in the red and they had to lay off half of their public defenders.  “We are going to be in a situation that I think will be near catastrophic,” said DA Stutes. "Justice delayed is justice denied."         https://www.dawnmarcelle.com/choose-your-truth-episode-2

Choose your Truth: Episode Three   5/2019 They were tripping on some really good heroin when they left the motel. Dereck called and told them to pick up some bleach on their way home from McDonalds. When they returned to the trailer, Tyler was gone. https://www.dawnmarcelle.com/choose-your-truth-episode-3