Teen’s Death Blamed on Cop’s Hair Trigger

     NEW ORLEANS (CN) – A Louisiana police officer killed a teenager without cause, and used a gun modified with a hair trigger to do it, the boy’s parents claim in court.
     The teen’s father and mother filed separate lawsuits, in Federal Court.
     The late Cjavar “Dee Jay” Galmon was 18 on Aug. 11, 2012 when he and two friends went to a club in Tangipahoa Parish, his father says in his complaint.
     “On August 11, 2012, William Plebus [sic] was in uniform and employed by the
     Tangipahoa Sheriff’s Office, and was present in the parking lot of Club 81, along with at least four other uniformed and armed Tangipahoa Sheriff’s deputies, who were supervising the dispersal of a crowd that had come out of the nightclub,” according to the father’s lawsuit.
     “Deputy Phebus [sic] shot and killed Cjavar Galmon in the nightclub parking lot with a firearm that he had altered to include an ‘aftermarket trigger,’ which had been allowed and tolerated by the Sheriff’s Department. ‘Aftermarket triggers’ were prohibited officially by the Sheriff, but actually tolerated by ‘turning a blind eye,’ in conscious indifference to the safety of citizens. This aftermarket trigger allowed the pistol to be fired with a shorter length of finger and trigger movement.
     “Defendant Steven Redmond has admitted altering Deputy Phebus’s pistol by installing the aftermarket trigger. Mr. Redmond made this alteration in violation of the written policy/order of the Sheriff while Deputy Phebus was a patrol officer for the TPSO and while Mr. Redmond was a member of management in the TPSO, either a Lieutenant or Sargent [sic]. Lieutenant Redmond was also the manager of the TPSO in charge of training.
     “The altering of the pistol was a substantial contributing factor to the shooting, if one is to believe the testimony of Deputy Phebus that he fired his pistol at Cjaver [sic] Galmon accidentally. The design of the Glock .40 calbier [sic] model 35 pistol of Deputy Phebus contains three separate safety mechanisms that prevent accidental firing in the absence of the trigger being pulled at the proper angle by the finger. The prohibited alteration allowed the trigger to be pulled and weapon fired with less motion of the finger.
     “Defendant Steven Redmond, as the TPSO management person in charge of training, acted with deliberate indifference to the constitutional rights and safety of citizens, in training and supervising training of deputies in two critical subject areas: (1) policies on the use of force and (2) policies on the use of firearms. In a deposition on August 7, 2013, Lieutenant Redmond, even knowing that he was coming to be questioned under oath, demonstrated that he performed these training functions for the Sheriff while being ignorant of the contents of the written General Orders of the Sheriff on both Use of Force and Firearms. Repeatedly, Steven Redmond testified that he did not know if installing an aftermarket trigger on a pistol for a deputy was a violation of the Sheriff’s policy, even though the General Order plainly stated so.
     “Lieutenant Redmond also has repeatedly admitted that, in training and supervising training of deputies, he did not teach the deputies to use the ‘minimum’ level or type of force necessary to achieve the law enforcement objective in the circumstances, which is a constitutional requirement, but instead taught the deputies the vague concepts of using the ‘appropriate’ level of force, ‘depending on the circumstances.’ This failure to train deputies such as Deputy Phebus on this critical constitutional requirement was a substantial factor in Phebus’s decisions to draw his pistol and to point it at Mr. Galmon’s head, without attempting to employ lower levels of force or deterrence, whether or not his pulling of the trigger was accidental.”
     Galmon’s father claims that this was not the first time that Phebus had been a problem officer.
     “Deptuy [sic] Phebus had previously worked for other law enforcement agencies. It is believed that persons in a supervisory position to Phebus were aware of complaints or problems Phebus had in the past that were relevant to his suitability to carry a weapon as a law officer,” the complaint states.
     It continues: “A young woman approached one of the five officers and pointed to a young man, Macquise Martin, and said that he had a gun in his pants. Deputies called the Mr. Martin [sic] over, but he started running away, but then tripped and fell to the ground, where deputies caught up to him, and held him laying face down on the ground.
     “Police had Mr. Martin on the ground and under control. Deputy Phebus was kneeling over the young man’s back, and already had a handcuff on one of the young man’s hands, which were already behind his back. Deputy Phebus had another armed deputy standing behind him, protecting him, in addition to at least three other armed deputies in the same parking lot.
     “Dee Jay Galmon started walking toward Deputy Phebus and the other officer behind him, making sure to demonstrate to them that he was unarmed by holding both his hands above his head and in front of him. He stated words to the effect of ‘Hey sir, he’s not the one.’
     “There were no exigent circumstances which necessitated the use of a deadly weapon or deadly force.
     “Dee Jay: (1) was unarmed, (2) with both hands empty and in full view, (3) had committed no crime, (4) was not suspected of any crime, and (5) was still a considerable distance from Deputy Phebus, perhaps 15-25 feet.
     “Deputy Phebus was in no danger. He had another deputy standing behind him with a gun, plus at least three other armed deputies in the same parking lot.
     “Deputy Phebus outweighed Cjavar by over 100 pounds.
     “Deputy Phebus is a marksman, who is knowledgeable of guns, and he was familiar with the gun he fired, having handled and been trained with the gun he shot on numerous occasions before the shooting of Mr. ‘Dee Jay’ Galmon.
     “Deputy Phebus pulled his gun, pointed at Dee Jay, and fired directly at Dee Jay in the head area while ‘Dee Jay’ was still approximately 15-25 feet away and no danger to any officer.
     “Dee Jay fell backward to the ground with his hands still raised above his head.
     “Dee Jay lay shaking and quivering on the ground, suffering in pain.
     “A nurse and other persons in the crowd sought to perform CPR, but were denied by the deputies any access to Dee Jay, who lay dying.
     “Deputy Phebus is trained in emergency medical treatment, but did nothing to attempt to stop or slow the bleeding or support breathing.
     “Not one officer on the scene attempted any life saving effort.
     “There may have been a delay in summoning an ambulance.”
     The father says he say his son die, or saw him in the moments after he died: “Carl Galmon came upon the scene of the shooting, and witnessed his dying or slain son, lying without any assistance of the police officers. This was a traumatic event for Carl Galmon, which has had lasting psychological painful consequences.”
     In the second lawsuit, filed by Cjavar’s mother and siblings, they say they tried to comfort Dee Jay as he lay dying, but were not allowed to do so.
     “Ms. [Willene] Briggs attempted, but she was not allowed to comfort her son,” the complaint states.
     “Ms. [Kim] Brumfield w as also called to the scene shortly after the shooting. She also arrived shortly thereafter to witness her brother dying on the ground.
     “Ms. Brumfield attempted, but she was not allowed to comfort her baby brother.
     “Both women have suffered physical pain and suffering upon witnessing the event of the death of Dee Jay.
     “Neither was allowed any access to Dee Jay and the crowd was chanting that it was wrong to deny Dee Jay medical or life-saving assistance.
     “The OIC [officer in charge] called dogs to the scene and no one was allowed to go to Dee Jay and offer him comfort him at the time of death.
     “Mr. Allen Briggs, the brother, and Ms. Kendra Pendleton, a sister, also arrived to witness their brother dying on the ground. Although both family members tried to go to Dee Jay to offer him comfort and to determine his condition, they were denied access, which resulted in them waiting and watching as he died slowly over several hours.
     “Dee Jay lay on the ground until the around 7 a.m. [Sic.]
     “No action has been taken to bring Lt. Steven Redman [sic] to justice.”
     The family seeks damages for excessive force, denial of medical treatment, medical bills, pain and suffering and costs.
     Named as defendants in both lawsuits are Lt. Steven Redmond and Sheriff Daniel Edwards. The mother’s complaint misspells Redmond’s name as Redman. It does not list the sheriff as a defendant in the header, but does name him in the body of the complaint.
     The father also sued Deputy William Phebus and Columbia Casualty Co. Phebus is not listed as a defendant in the header, but is named in the body of the complaint.
     Cjavar’s mother and his siblings are represented by Donna U. Grodner of Baton Rouge.
     Cjavar’s father, Carl Galmon Sr., is represented by Walter Landry Smith of Baton Rouge.

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