Mother Claims She Called Sheriffs to Split Up Fight Between Her Daughter and Son-in-Law -- Officers Instead Shoot Them Both to Death

Human Rights

NEW ORLEANS (CN) - A mother who called Louisiana sheriff's officers because her daughter and son-in-law were fighting saw the officers respond by shooting them both to death, the mother claims in court.

The mother, Patricia Doyle, sued on behalf of her two granddaughters, and for her late daughter, Deborah Prine, and son-in-law Robert Prine.

Named as defendants are St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Michael Tregre, in his official capacity, and 14 of his officers, in their official capacities and as individuals.

St. John the Baptist Parish is just west of New Orleans. A Parish is Louisiana's version of a county.

In the federal lawsuit, Doyle says she called 911 sometime before 8 p.m. on Aug. 28, 2012, to complain that her daughter and son-in-law were fighting.

The Sheriff's Office responded by sending 14 officers, who shot her daughter to death, and then shot her son-in-law to death when he begged them not to keep shooting his wife, Doyle says.

"While plaintiff, Patricia Doyle, was speaking to the 911 operator the 911 operator overheard Deborah Prine state that she had a gun as she left Patricia Doyle's trailer," the complaint states.

It continues: "The 911 operator asked Patricia Doyle if Deborah Prine was armed. Patricia Doyle told the operator that Deborah Prine was going to try to get the responding deputies to shoot her but that she would not hurt anyone. The plaintiff, Doyle, asked the 911 operator to send the appropriate people out to handle the situation.

"As these [14] defendants took up defensive positions around the Prine home the plaintiff, Doyle, began yelling to the defendants that her daughter, Deborah Prine, would not hurt anyone and that she was trying to get the defendants to shoot her.

"Shortly thereafter Robert Prine, unarmed, walked around the side of his residence between a camper and his house towards some of the defendant deputies who had taken up defensive positions in front of 129 Steven Drive. The defendant deputies attempted to engage Robert Prine, however, he backed away from them to a location behind the camper located in the front yard of 129 Steven Drive.

"Deborah Prine then exited the open carport of her home at 129 Steven Drive. As she walked out she had a rifle strapped over her shoulder pointed toward the sky. She walked out the carport to the end of the driveway where she stopped. As she stood there several of the defendant deputies ordered her to drop her weapon. Fearful that the defendant deputies would shoot her daughter, the plaintiff, Doyle, pleaded with the defendants not to shoot. Doyle was 10 to 15 feet behind the defendants pleading with them not to shoot Deborah Prine. Moments after ordering Deborah Prine to drop her gun but before she had an opportunity to do so the defendants, [Sgt. Richard] Dubus and [Deputy Christopher] Powell, shot Deborah Prine. Although Deborah Prine was armed her rifle was pointed skyward the entire time. She never lowered the weapon or pointed the weapon at anyone. She never fired the weapon.

"Immediately after being shot Deborah Prine fell to the ground. The stock of her gun struck the ground and her gun discharged. In response the defendants, Dubus, [Deputy Turner] Barran and [Deputy Bailey] Newsom shot Deborah Prine .

"After falling to the ground Deborah Prine never reached for her rifle, pointed her rifle or in anyway manipulated her rifle. After being shot Deborah Prine was defenseless, unarmed and posed no threat. Nonetheless, the defendants, Dubus, Barran and Newsom, fired a second round of shots into her.

"In response to witnessing his wife being shot Robert Prine became hysterical. As he ran towards his wife's body screaming and unarmed he was shot and killed by the defendants Dubus, [Deputy Mark] Ceravalo and Powell.

"At no time did Robert Prine ever threaten any of the defendant deputies with any weapon.

"As a result of being shot by the defendant deputies, Dubus, Powell, Barran and Newsom, Deborah Prine endured pre-death mental and physical pain and suffering.

"As a result of being shot by the defendant deputies, Dubus, Powell and Ceravolo, Robert Prine endured pre-death mental and physical pain and suffering.

"All of the above was witnessed by Deborah Prine's mother, the plaintiff, Doyle, who stood behind the defendant deputies when the shootings occurred.

"At the time of the killings Doyle was talking on the telephone to the plaintiffs, Heather Prine and Karen Prine, the daughters of Deborah and Robert Prine, who although not present could hear their grandmother plead with the police not to kill Deborah Prine.

"Heather Prine and Karen Prine heard the gunshots that killed their mother and father and listened to their grandmother's hysterical reaction to the events as they occurred.
"As a result of witnessing her daughter and son-in-law's killing, the plaintiff, Patricia Doyle, sustained severe, debilitating and foreseeable mental anguish and/or emotional distress.

"As a result of hearing their grandmother contemporaneously describe the killing of their mother and father by the defendant deputies, and hearing the fatal gunshots, the plaintiffs, Heather Prine and Karen Prine, sustained severe, debilitating and foreseeable mental anguish and/or emotional distress.

"Immediately after the shootings, the defendant deputies, except for Sheriff Tregre, in concert with one another, conspired and concocted a false version of the shooting of Deborah and Robert Prine in order to justify the Prines' deaths and in order to protect themselves from discipline and future legal action for their negligent and/or intentional wrongdoing. These conspiratorial acts on the part of the defendants to cover up their wrongdoing included planting a knife and fork on Robert Prine in order to support their claims that he was armed when he was shot and fabricating a claim that Deborah Prine manipulated the bolt of her rifle and pointed it at the deputies.

"Additional specific misrepresentations fabricated by the defendants as part of the conspiracy include the claims by Dubus, [Deputy Matthew] Woodruff, Barran,
Ceravolo, Powell, [Det. Maurice] Rodriguez, Newsom, [Det. Michael] Shard and [Deputy Victor] Campuzano that Doyle told them that Robert Prine hit Doyle and threatened to stab Doyle, that Deborah Prine had told Doyle she was going to shoot deputies, that Robert Prine verbally threatened to kill the defendant deputies, that Robert and Deborah Prine were on the porch fighting over control of the rifle, that Deborah Prine continually pointed the gun at the defendant deputies, and that after the shooting Robert Prine jumped onto his wife's body then returned to the house only to then run back out of the house toward the deputies with a shiny object, knife and/or fork, in his hand threatening to kill the deputies.

"After shooting Deborah Prine and Robert Prine to death, the defendant deputies worked individually, together and in concert, to concoct these false claims. Further, they conspired with one another and other unknown deputies or employees of Sheriff Tregre to cover up their illegal use of deadly and excessive force. This conspiracy included the making of false statements and preparing false reports by all of the named defendants which include claims identified in paragraphs 27 and 28. [The two paragraphs immediately before this one.] Additionally, these defendants fabricated evidence and failed to collect and/or destroyed or ignored exculpatory evidence  including witness' statements and committed other acts to make it appear that their actions were justified.

"Following the shooting of Deborah and Robert Prine by the defendants, Dubus, Barran, Ceravolo, Powell and Newsom, said defendants and the defendants, Woodruff, Rodriguez, Shard, [Deputy Brandon] Barlow, [Sgt. Jim] Brouwer, Campuzano, [Deputy Daryl] Turner, [Deputy Justin] Bordelon and [Deputy Travis] Thomas, refused to report the excessive force of the defendant shooters or to report the conspiratorial actions taken by the defendant shooters to cover up their wrongdoing.

"Numerous named nonshooting defendant deputies observed the use of excessive force by the aforenamed defendant deputy shooters yet the nonshooting defendant deputies and other investigating defendant deputies conspired with one another and the shooters to conceal the defendants' wrongdoing and misconduct.

"Additional steps taken by the co-defendants, except for Tregre, in furtherance of the conspiracy to cover up their wrongful killing of Deborah and Robert Prine include their moving and removal of evidence prior to the arrival of the State Police investigators which includes removing a knife and fork from the Prine residence at 129 Steven Drive, Reserve, Louisiana and placing it near the body and hands of Robert Prine."The family seeks punitive damages for wrongful death, assault and battery, civil rights violations, constitutional violations, excessive force, false reports, destruction of evidence, conspiracy, mental anguish, negligence, failure to train, supervise and discipline, malice, recklessness and other charges.They are represented by Gary W. Bizal of New Orleans.

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