A Louisiana sheriff allowed his deputies to beat inmates, use excessive force on suspects, and cover up wrongdoing during his eight-year-long tenure over the Iberia Parish Sheriff's Office, several of his former subordinates have testified.
Louis Ackal, who is accused of civil rights abuses, once told a deputy to kill a suspect during a manhunt, according to testimony on Tuesday from the former deputy, Eric Segura, local media reported.
It was one of many allegations meant to convince jurors that Ackal's leadership fostered a culture of violence and lawlessness within the sheriff's office.
"(Ackal) told me if I see that f---ing n----r, he does not come out of the woods alive," Segura testified, adding that he did not kill the suspect, according to the Daily Iberian.
Another former deputy Jason Comeaux — who himself has pleaded guilty to beating inmates and covering up the incidents — testified that Ackal once supervised a contraband sweep at the Ibera Parish jail in 2011, and instructed his deputies to beat an inmate.
"I'm the f---ing sheriff, and I want him taken care of," Ackal said of the inmate, Comeaux recalled.
Ackal's trial began Monday with a blistering opening statement from a federal prosecutor detailing the contraband sweep, which he said involved deputies beating handcuffed inmates with metal batons as they screamed in pain abd begged for mercy, the Acadiana Advocate reported.
The prosecutor, Joseph Jarzabek, also told the court that Ackal once refused to discipline three deputies who confessed to beating up two black men for no reason while they were off-duty and drunk. Ackal allegedly defended the beating as "a good old n----r knockin'" and deleted a report documenting the incident.
The defense has sought to discredit the testimony of Ackal's former deputies — who have themselves pleaded guilty to crimes — arguing that they're benefitting from "paycheck prosecution," and testifying to appease prosecutors before they're sentenced.
At least nine of Ackal's deputies have pleaded guilty to related charges, and several of them are testifying against Ackal, according to the Associated Press.
Ackal's case made headlines last June, after he was recorded making threats to shoot a prosecutor between his "Jewish eyes" after the prosecutor said he would send Ackal to prison.
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