“No good deed goes unpunished.”
“Karma’s a bitch.”
“What goes around comes around.”
No matter how you say it, good intentions sometimes bring unjust punishment and sometimes those good intentions result in very bad results.
Just ask Donald Broussard of New Iberia.
Last July 8, Broussard was rear-ended in Lafayette Parish by a hit-and-run driver who minutes later collided head-on with an 18-wheeler in adjacent Iberia Parish and was killed.
Yet it was Broussard who was indicted by an Iberia Parish grand jury last week for NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE.
You are probably thinking about now that there has to be more to this story—and you’re right, there is more to it.
You see, Broussard did the unpardonable: On July 1, a week before the auto accident, Broussard was the impetus behind a RECALL of Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal.
Broussard was one of the organizers of the Justice for VICTOR WHITE III Foundation which filed a petition last July 1 to force a recall election.
White, you may recall, was the 22-year-old who died of a gunshot wound while in the back seat of a sheriff deputy’s patrol car in March 2014. The official report said the gunshot was self-inflicted. The coroner’s report said he was shot in the front with the bullet entering his right chest and exiting under his left armpit. White’s hands were cuffed behind his back at the time.
Ackal, of course, skated on that issue and was later indicted, tried and acquitted on federal charges involving beating and turning dogs loose on prisoners, proving beyond any lingering doubts that he is a force to be reckoned with. But when you’ve got retired federal judge and family member FRED HAIK helping with the defense, you tend to land on your feet.
All of which brings us to the latest woes to beset Broussard.
The story in Sunday’s Daily Iberian reads, “A New Iberia man who was instrumental in the drive to recall Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal last year has been indicted for manslaughter in the aftermath of an alleged road rage incident that left a Bossier City man dead in July.”
Here’s the chronology of events:
Moments before the fatal crash, Rakeem Blakes, 24, rear-ended a Cadillac driven by Broussard at the corner of Ambassador Caffery Parkway and U.S. 90 in Lafayette Parish which is just up the road apiece from Iberia Parish.
Broussard said he followed Blakes after Blakes fled the scene when Broussard approached his car but denied that he chased Blakes. “The guy hit me,” Broussard said. “I got within 20 feet of him so I could get his license plate number. I gave it (the license number) to the (911) dispatcher and they told me to fall back, so I fell back.” Broussard said reports that he had a gun were ridiculous. “I don’t even own a gun, he said. “I told the State Police they could search my car. They just handed me my license and let me go on my way.”
Broussard said Blakes was driving erratically, causing a hazard for other drivers.
Sixteenth Judicial District Attorney Bo Duhé said the case involving Broussard was turned over to his office for review in November following completion of the LSP investigation.
In what has to be one of the most convoluted reviews of any investigation, Assistant District Attorney Janet Perrodin presented the case and the grand jury last Friday returned a true bill indicting Broussard for manslaughter and “aggravated obstruction of a highway,” which led to Blakes’ death.
Unexplained in this bizarre episode was how Broussard created an “aggravated obstruction” when it was Blakes who rear-ended him and subsequently fled the scene. Duhé, in some pretty fancy verbal footwork, said state law allows a manslaughter charge to be brought when an offender “is engaged in the perpetration of any intentional misdemeanor directly affecting the person. Aggravated obstruction of a highway is the performance of any act on a highway where human life may be endangered,” he said.
That’s one helluva stretch, Mr. DA. It’s also one of vaguest laws ever cited in bringing an indictment against someone. I mean, go back and read it.
Manslaughter: when one is “engaged in the perpetration of any intentional misdemeanor directly affecting the person.”
Aggravated obstruction of a highway: the “performance of any act on a highway where human life may be endangered.”
And we know that a district attorney can make a grand jury dance a ballet in a septic tank if he so desires. It’s all in what information is provided the grand jury and what is withheld. By those definitions, any one of us could be arrested, jailed, tried and convicted at just about any time for any perceived offense.
But we won’t be. This was tailored just for Mr. Broussard who had the temerity to take on a powerful sheriff who has shown his proclivity to exact revenge against those who would dare stand up to his authority.
Broussard’s bond on the manslaughter charge was set at $75,000 and bond for the aggravated obstruction charge was set at $10,000.
Given any semblance of justice, there’s not a chance in hell of a conviction.
But whoever said there was a semblance of justice in this ludicrous drama being played out in the heart of Acadiana?
Only the most naïve of the naïve would discount a good-ol’-boy, back scratchin’ network within the local power structure, especially if it benefits a powerful sheriff bent on revenge against an adversary. Even if that adversary is, by all appearances, innocent of any wrongdoing other than making the sheriff angry.
The recall effort eventually failed for a lack of sufficient signatures but that doesn’t mean that Ackal doesn’t have a long memory and the propensity to call in favors from friends in the right places.
And even if the charges are dropped or if Broussard is acquitted, it’s going to cost him plenty in legal fees.
And that’s how you spell revenge when you are a ruthless sheriff who can tweak the so-called justice system to do your bidding.