Cochran Firm attorney Andre Clarke and attorney William Most with Most & Associates are representing the family of Eric Parsa. The parents filed a lawsuit accusing deputies of using excessive force while attempting to restrain Eric on January 19, 2020. On that day seven officers restrained the autistic teen in a face-down position while he was handcuffed. The encounter lasted more than nine minutes and resulted in the teen’s death. The family claims that the deputies used excessive force in the form of choke and neck holds and using their body weight while Eric was in the prone position without ensuring that the unarmed teen was able to breathe. They say their son was held in this manner until he urinated on himself, and only then was he moved to a recovery position.
The family was leaving a laser tag facility at a shopping center in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans, LA, when Eric experienced a “meltdown” due to sensory overload causing the teen to reportedly slap himself and his father. The manager of the laser tag business called a reserve deputy, Chad Pitfield, who was providing security for the shopping center. Pitfield pinned Eric down on the parking lot asphalt while he waited on other deputies to arrive. The lawsuit states that the deputies should have rolled Eric to his side and allow him to breath, but instead they held him down for nine minutes and six seconds when the teenager went limp.
Eric’s mother Donna Lou, a doctor, tried to resuscitate Eric, but deputies reportedly told her to “stay back and let them do their job”. Eric was eventually taken to East Jefferson Hospital where he later went into cardiac arrest and died. The Jefferson Parrish Coroner’s Office declared the death an accident, but admitted that Eric being held in the prone position was a factor.
The lawsuit was filed in US District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana. It claims that Eric’s and his parent’s civil rights were violated by deputies of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s office as well as the owners of the shopping center where the altercation occurred.
"We bring this lawsuit in hopes that Eric's death would not be in vain and no other family would have to go through the same horror."- Donna Lou Parsa, Eric's Mother
Eric was attending high school and learning social skills and how to live independently before the police interaction that resulted in his death.
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