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Lawsuit: Autistic teen dies after Louisiana cops sit on him for 9 minutes

Eric Parsa lawsuit
Eric Parsa lawsuit: Pictured severely autistic teen and his Louisiana parents.
Eric Parsa lawsuit
Eric Parsa lawsuit: Pictured severely autistic teen and his Louisiana parents.

Eric Parsa lawsuit: Parents of severely autistic teen boy file suit against Jefferson Parish officers for use of excessive force & negligence & violation of civil rights causing teen’s death following episode. 

A Louisiana couple have blamed police for the death of their 16 year old autistic son after placing the teen in a chokehold and sitting on him for 9 minutes along a pavement according to a lawsuit filed on Thursday.

Eric Parsa according to the suit died after seven Jefferson Parish officers restrained the boy outside of Laser Tag in Metairie on January 19, 2020. The suit accuses police of negligence and violating the victim’s civil rights and causing the teen’s unnecessary death WWLTV reported.

Surveillance footage from the incident showed the extremely autistic youth slapping himself and his father in the parking lot. The father and son struggle for several minutes before Deputy Chad Pitfield intervenes.

Pitfield was off-duty but working security for the shopping center at the time according to NOLA. After Parsa strikes Pitfield — who allegedly weighs more than 300 pounds — the off duty cop took the teen to the ground and sat on his lower torso.

The lawsuit described Parsa as ‘severely autistic.’ It also alleged that responding police officers knew the teen was unarmed and obese and using excessive force. Parsa was reportedly handcuffed and restrained facedown for nine minutes. Officers allegedly did not place him in a prone position even after he calmed down.

Police over-reaction? 

‘They knew (Eric) was in a crisis situation and that the family needed help. They knew he was unarmed,’ the lawsuit alleges. ‘Yet they persisted in dangerously and forcefully restraining (him) without appropriately monitoring his condition, until they killed him.’

During the nine minutes the boy was held down, there were ‘several clear and distinct opportunities’ when Eric was calm and not actively resisting, but the deputies ‘failed to appropriately reduce the use of force,’ according to the complaint.

‘It wasn’t until his body had gone limp, and he had urinated on himself that the deputies rolled him into a ‘recovery position.’ By then, it was too late,’ the lawsuit continues in part.

The suit stated that Jefferson Parish Coroner’s Office determined the teen’s death was caused by ‘excited delirium due to an acute psychotic episode in the setting of severe autistic spectrum disorder and disruptive behavior disorder.’ The autopsy report concluded his death was accidental and listed morbid obesity, an enlarged heart, Parsa’s prone positioning as contributing factors, according to Nola.com.

‘suit rife with false claims and malicious accusations’ 

Lawyers for Parsa’s parents said his cause of death should have been listed as a homicide, as they do not believe the teen was experiencing delirium when police detained him.

Parsa’s parents are seeking unspecified monetary damages in their lawsuit, which lists the seven responding Jefferson Parish officers, Sheriff Joe Lopinto, and the owners of Westgate Shopping Center as defendants.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office maintains the complaint is ‘rife with false claims and malicious accusations.’

Responded the police department in a statement issued to WWL, ‘While the Sheriff’s Office remains deeply saddened over this unfortunate loss of life, it does not intend to allow Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Deputies to be maligned and slandered by those seeking to profit from this unfortunate situation.’