Olon Dotson. Ball State University // Photo Courtesy
Architecture professor sues Louisiana police after son's 'unconstitutional' arrest
A Ball State professor is suing five Louisiana State Police troopers and the agency’s leader after an alleged unconstitutional stop and arrest of his juvenile son in the New Orleans French Quarter last year.
The lawsuit was filed Friday in federal court by architecture professor Olon Dotson and his son, Lyle Dotson.
The lawsuit states that state police physically assaulted and arrested Lyle on Oct. 7, 2015, without lawful grounds for doing so. In the suit, Lyle contends that his arrest, detention and treatment violated his constitutional rights and caused physical, mental and emotional distress, pain and suffering. The Dotsons are now seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorneys’ fees.
The Dotsons, who are black, were in New Orleans with the professor’s architecture class on a trip through the southern United States, learning about “key civil rights sites” and the “unique and historic architecture” of New Orleans.
During a stop in the French Quarter to see the interior courtyard at Pat O’Brien’s, a bar on Bourbon Street, Dotson’s then 17-year-old son could not enter because he was too young. The teenager arranged to meet the group at the bar’s back entrance, but got lost. While on the phone with his father, the lawsuit says “Lyle was physically assaulted, detained and ultimately arrested without lawful authority by Louisiana State Police.”
“Lyle Dotson did nothing other than stand on a public street in the French Quarter,” the lawsuit says. “Rather than uphold their obligation to make the French Quarter and the City of New Orleans a safe and pleasant destination for visitors, the Louisiana State Police’s unconstitutional and racially-driven policies, practices and customs achieve precisely the opposite, endangering and injuring individuals visiting New Orleans.”
Both the Louisiana State Police and the Dotsons were not able to comment on the pending suit.