SHREVEPORT, La. (CN) - The home of a former small-town police officer who ran for local offices was illegally raided and his son was falsely charged with murder because of his political activities, he claims in court.
Murphy Robertson Jr., along with his wife and adult son, sued the City of Minden, La., and its police department, the Webster Parish Sheriff's Office, and a host of city and parish officials. He filed the lawsuit in Federal Court for unlawful search, free speech retaliation, false arrest, conspiracy and other civil rights violations.
Robertson was a Minden police officer for 13 years before he decided to run for police chief in 2010, according to the complaint. "Despite its close proximity to Shreveport, [the] City of Minden still maintains much of its small town atmosphere," the complaint states.
Robertson says he has actively opposed a number of police department policies and practices. He lost the police chief election by about 450 votes, according to state election records.
He then ran for the position of Minden City Marshal in 2014, while also opposing the incumbent police chief. "Robertson Jr. was campaigning against a long-entrenched group of politicians in Minden," the complaint states.
Around 11 p.m. on Aug. 27, 2014, less than a week after Robertson qualified for his city marshal candidacy, police "smashed" in his front door, placed him in a chokehold, and handcuffed family members, according to the complaint.
"Despite the impropriety of the intrusion into his home, Robertson Jr. permitted the officers to search the house - in every room and under every bed, in every closet, even in the attic. They found nothing," the complaint states. "There was no legitimate purpose for a search of the Robertson's home and even if there was such purpose, the search was conducted with excessive force and the Robertsons were falsely handcuffed and arrested."
Robertson's son, Murphy Robertson IV, was 18 years old at the time. He was with a friend at the time of the raid and was called back home, according to the complaint. Robertson's son was arrested and police found a weapon in the car he was riding in. They reportedly charged him with murder and possession of a firearm.
"Three days earlier, on August 24, 2014, Omar Lott was murdered and his body was dumped in a wooded area in Webster Parish. On August 27, 2014, Omar Lott's body was found and four people were arrested. Two of those suspects, Mr. Dylan Turk and Mr. J'son Turk had, unbeknownst to anyone, pointed to Robertson IV as the killer of Omar Lott," the complaint states. "The incident and arrest was based solely on the word of two witnesses, who were themselves suspects, involved in the murder of Omar Lott, one of whom ultimately confessed to the crime."
After 57 days in jail, J'Son Turk allegedly confessed and the charges against Robertson's son were dismissed, according to the lawsuit. Robertson claims the raid and arrest of his son was in response to his political activities.
"In retaliation for opposition to the Minden Police Department and his candidacies, the Minden Police Department along with other named defendants engaged in an official campaign of harassment and intimidation against the Robertsons, culminating in the obtaining of an illegal warrant, an illegal middle-of-the-night raid into their home, loaded guns leveled point-blank in the faces of the Robertsons and other family members present, and the illegal arrest and detention of Robertson IV," the complaint states.
Robertson ultimately lost his city marshal bid with about 20 percent of votes, Louisiana election records show.
The Robertsons seek punitive damages and legal costs. They are represented by Allison Jones of Davidson, Jones & Summers in Shreveport, La.
The Minden police department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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