Three Black teens allege they were racially profiled at Metairie parade
18th March 2013 · 0 Comments
By Michael Radcliff
Editor’s note: As tensions continue to mount in the wake of the Feb. 10 attack by nine plainclothes Louisiana state troopers and a plainclothes NOPD officer in the French Quarter just two days before Mardi Gras, The Louisiana Weekly has learned of another incident in Jefferson Parish involving three Black teens just eight says before 17-year-old Sidney Newman and 18-year-old Ferdinand Hunt, were allegedly racially profiled and assaulted in the 700 block of Conti Street. The Feb. 10 incident was caught on tape by a French Quarter crime camera. Until recently, only parts of the video were released to the public but the release of the entire video has led to more questions about what really happened and how many NOPD officers were involved.
The second incident allegedly occurred on February 2 along the Krewe of Caesar parade route in Metairie. In that incident, it is alleged that three Black teens were racially profiled, beaten and wrongfully arrested by Jefferson Parish deputies. The three students — David Sampson, Ricky Jefferson and Joe Sharpe — are teammates and classmates at Destrehan High School.
Both cases involve Black male teens whose only crime appears to be enjoying themselves during Carnival season and each case involves a Black male with a mother who is employed by a law enforcement agency. David Sampson Jr.’s mother is a detective with the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office and his father is a retired, 10-year veteran of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.
On the night of February 2, 2013 at the Krewe of Caesar parade in Metairie. A group of teens, mostly classmates from Destrehan High School, were gathered to watch. Among those at the parade was 17-year-old David Sampson JR. — a straight A student and member of the National Honor Society; a first-team all-district athlete, recipient of the U.S. Marine Corps Scholar Athlete award, and son of both a 10-year veteran of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, as well as the son of the first African-American female police detective in the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office.
According to several witnesses, David Sampson Jr. was “clowning around” with one of his friends and called his classmate the B-word. An undercover Jefferson Parish deputy in the crowd a few feet away overheard the teenager’s comment and apparently thought that David was talking to him. The deputy proceeded to point his finger at David and beckoned him to come to him. Not knowing that this random guy in the crowd calling him was a law enforcement officer—the officer was dressed in plain clothes with no visible badge—David ignored him and proceeded to walk away. Incensed, the officer then began to pursue young Mr. Sampson. The officer then reportedly grabbed the 17-year-old from behind by the shirt, literally, ripping his shirt off, allegedly called him the N-word, and began to throw him over the back of a car. Seeing this random white guy attacking their classmate and teammate, Ricky Jefferson (former LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson’s younger brother) and Joe Sharpe pulled the guy off of David and David took off running. At this point, this random guy standing along the parade route identified himself as a police officer at which point Joe Sharpe and Ricky Jefferson let him go. Within a matter of seconds, both Sharpe and Jefferson were violently thrown to the ground and physically restrained by another five Jefferson Parish sheriff’s deputies, both in uniform and plain clothes. Moments later, David Sampson was apprehended, restrained and arrested.
The Story According to Detective Collins…
According to JPSO Det. Joshua Collins, an undercover narcotics officer for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, David Sampson Jr. approached him while he was in the process of making an arrest. According to JPSO records, Det. Collins says he told the teenager to move back but Sampson refused and began to curse him. Then, according to Detective Collins, when he tried to arrest Mr. Sampson, the teenager tried to punch him and a fight ensued. Within a matter of seconds, Joe Sharpe and Rickey Jefferson came to Sampson’s aid and began to attack Collins as well. Sampson, he claimed, was able to escape but after a lengthy chase, he was able to subdue and arrest him. He later claimed that unnamed witnesses in the crowd had told him that Sampson had a gun which he allegedly threw on the ground. This mysterious “smoking” gun was never recovered.
The Incident According to Everyone Else…
The Louisiana Weekly spoke with several eyewitnesses to the events which transpired on the night of February 2 at the Krewe of Caesar parade in Metairie. Zack S, one of David’s Destrehan High School classmates who witnessed the attack, told The Louisiana Weekly, “What I remember happening is a white male, took my Black friend, David, he put him against a vehicle, an altercation took place between this guy and David. Rickey and Joe went to help David. After they got him off David, David got scared, and started running, it was at that time that I saw a gun in the back of the man’s waistband. I was scared for David. It wasn’t until after the fact, way after the fact, that we realized that this dude was a cop. It was only after I saw David getting dragged back to the cop car.
“Just knowing David,” Zack continued, “and I’ve known him for a couple of years, he is not a disrespectful kid. He’s very respectful. He’s a nice guy. I didn’t see him make any type of disrespectful motions towards the police officer.”
Cody K, another one of David’s friends and classmates who attended the parade, told The Louisiana Weekly, “I was standing right next to David (at the parade). What really happened was he (David) was talking to his friend Ryan and he called him a B- word, David was actually talking to Ryan—I know because I was standing right next to him—but the guy who later turned out to be a cop thought he was talking to him, so he started like charging at him, and (David) didn’t know what was going on, so David just started running. When his friend (Joe) saw him and saw the cop running after David, he (Joe) started running after the cop and that’s when the whole thing started, because they (the cops) were in regular clothes and never showed any proof of badges that they were cops. Nobody knew they were cops. Nobody showed any proof they were cops.”
L.Z., yet another Destrehan student at the parade that night, said last week, “I wasn’t that close. I was talking to my friend Joe (Sharpe), and that’s when we saw Sampson running. Sampson started running, and they had a guy like chasing him with a gun in his pants, but like we didn’t know it was an undercover cop. Joe, seeing what was happening, ran over there and got involved and then the next thing I saw was a bunch of cops getting involved.”
Joe Sharpe explained to The Louisiana Weekly, “My friend David, was walking—then all of sudden out of nowhere a man started telling him to come here. So he kept on walking… All of sudden, the man started chasing him. So him being a friend of mine, I go over there to see what’s wrong. I’m trying to help him, I’m trying to pull the dude off of him (David). He was grabbing on David, dragging him, I was trying to grab him (David) away from the dude. David finally pulled away and started to run, then I heard somebody yell ‘Police!’ Then I stopped. Soon there were cops all over, but when I realized that this guy was a cop, I stopped, David didn’t hear him because he was running fast through the crowd trying to get away— he (David) was like freaking out. He didn’t know what was going on. Then a whole bunch of cops threw me to the ground and attacked me— but none of them were wearing uniforms— we didn’t know they were cops.”
“Because I helped my friend, I was put in the same situation as David,” Sharpe added. “I was arrested and stayed overnight at the prison. They released me the next day, but I still have to go to trial.”
On Wednesday, Mrs. Roanne Sampson, David’s mother and a detective with the juvenile division of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, sat down with The Louisiana Weekly to give her son’s version of what took place that fateful night.
“Next week my child goes to court facing two counts of battery on a fellow police officer, one count of resisting arrest by flight, and one count of resisting arrest by violence,” she told The Louisiana Weekly. “According to my son, he and his friends were at the intersection of Veterans and Causeway watching the Caesar parade. David was talking to one of his friends, Ryan and he (David) said something to Ryan—I’m not sure of what he said, My child is not perfect, but whatever he said got the attention of what he perceived to be a white male and this guy (one who later turned out to be law enforcement) pointed at him and told him, ‘Come here.’ My son then looks at him like ‘I don’t know you’ and proceeds to walk away. At that time the man DID NOT identify himself as being law enforcement— he was dressed in blue jeans and a white polo shirt.
“Look,” she added, “I’m a law enforcement officer, his dad is a former law enforcement officer and my son knows better than to disrespect law enforcement. I trained him that way. Even though he was called the N-word by several officers that night, he did not respond in kind. Anyway, at this point, the officer began to pursue him, caught up to him, grabbed him by his shirt, nearly tearing his shirt off his body, and threw him over the back of a car. David’s friends, witnessing this, came over to help him. David then ran off. I later heard that once David started running, other officers on the scene began punching the Sharpe (Joe) kid in the head. After apprehending my son, I was told by David’s friends that they (the Jefferson Parish deputies) literally dragged my son to the police cruiser. My son!
“My son,” Mrs. Sampson continued, “doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t do drugs—he’s an athlete! David is a graduating senior, an honor roll student with a 3.6 grade point average—he scored a 32 on his ACT and he’s been awarded a number of both academic and athletic scholarships… but he lives and breathes academics. He has ABSOLUTELY no criminal background and the most significant issue that I have had to deal with regarding school infractions over his years at Destrehan was two uniform violations—he went to class with his blue gym sweatpants.”
The Sampson family has filed a formal complaint against Det. Joshua Collins with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and has already taken steps to alert local and regional civil rights organizations and community leaders about the plight of David Sampson Jr., Ricky Jefferson and Joe Sharpe.
On Tuesday, March 19, David Sampson is expected to appear in a Jefferson Parish courtroom for a pre-trial hearing. Among those in attendance at Tuesday’s hearing will be David Sampson’s loved ones and neighbors as well as a host of faculty and staff members from Destrehan High School.
“Next week,” Mrs. Sampson told The Louisiana Weekly, “my son goes to court facing unfair felony charges based on a highly questionable incident which could have a lasting impact on his very bright and promising future.”
This article originally published in the March 18, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.