NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A second ex-New Orleans police officer took a plea deal Wednesday in a case where the officers allegedly beat a Hispanic man and called him a “fake American.”
WDSU-TV reports that Spencer Sutton pleaded no contest to disturbing the peace. He had originally been charged with battery. He received a suspended 10-day sentence and agreed to pay $5,000 to the victim, Jorge Gomez, who was beaten unconscious.
John Galman, the other officer in the case, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery in February. Galman received a 30-day suspended sentence and a year’s probation.
Both officers, who are white and were off-duty at the time of the incident, had been on the force less than a year and both were fired a day after the July 24, 2018, beating.
Gomez, who was born in the United States, raised in Honduras and served in the U.S. Army, is suing the city.
A police report says Galman claimed Gomez was “stealing valor” by wearing a military camouflage-style outfit.
Gomez filed a federal lawsuit against the city, Galman and Sutton last month, saying the two then-police officers “spewed vicious, racist and nativist epithets” at him “and told him to ‘go back’ to the place he was from.”
The New Orleans Police Department has been implementing reforms under a court-backed agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice after an extensive investigation resulted in a 2011 report criticizing a wide array of department policies and practices, including allegations of discriminatory policing, racial profiling and unnecessary use of force,
The department issued a statement last month in response to Gomez’s lawsuit.
“While the NOPD generally does not comment on pending litigation matters, members of our department are expected to comply with the law at all times and adhere to the highest standards of professional conduct, whether on- or off-duty,” the release said. “In this case, the swift pace at which the Public Integrity Bureau investigated this incident and the decisive actions taken by the department to arrest and terminate these individuals clearly demonstrates NOPD’s refusal to tolerate such behavior.” Continue reading: We can’t trust police to protect us from racist violence. They contribute to it