L. Clayton Burgess settles brutality suit
The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office paid $400,000 to settle a federal lawsuit for the 2014 alleged beating of an inmate, according to a settlement agreement obtained by KATC Investigates.
Jason Brungardt, 41, of Lafayette, filed the suit last year after he said two former deputies — Brandon Gallien, 29 of Opelousas, and Michael McSheffrey, 35 of Lafayette — beat and pepper sprayed him in the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center in April 2014. He also alleged two other former deputies, Adrian Theriot and Scarla Celestine, knew about the beating but did nothing.
Brungardt had four fractured ribs and a punctured lung from the alleged beating, according to the suit, which was closed last month. Brungardt remained hospitalized for three days before returning to the LPCC.
Brungardt was represented by Attorney Clayton Burgess with the Law Offices of L. Clayton Burgess. The terms of the settlement were signed last week in Kansas, where Brungardt now lives. He received the $400,000 payment in one lump sum from the Sheriff’s insurance company. The settlement ends the claims against Sheriff Michael Neustron and the four deputies, but “is not to be construed as an admission of liability, criminal intent, act or conspiracy,” according to the settlement agreement.
Gallien and McSheffrey were both charged with second degree battery and malfeasance in office after the alleged beating, and are awaiting trial. Brunghart is also awaiting trial for his April charges — second degree battery, aggravated assault, possession of marijuana and self-mutilation by a prisoner.
Theriot and Celestine also were arrested for principle to battery and malfeasance in office. The DA’s office declined to purse the charge against Theriot, and has not pursued those against Celestine.
All four deputies were dismissed from the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office shortly after the incident.