Man can revive suit against New Orleans over police beating

Nov 28, 2021, 4:36 PM | Updated: 4:39 pm

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal appeals court says a Hispanic Iraq War veteran can revive his lawsuit over a beating by two New Orleans police officers who he said called him a “fake American.”

The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reports that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Jorge Gomez on Nov. 18.

Gomez is a U.S. native who was raised in Honduras and served with the National Guard in Iraq. He encountered the two off-duty officers inside a bar on the night of July 24, 2018.

Gomez was wearing fatigues and a beret. He said the officers, both of whom are white, questioned his military service and called him a “fake American” before beating him outside.

The New Orleans Police Department quickly fired both officers. Officer John Galman eventually pleaded guilty to simple battery, while Officer Spencer Sutton pleaded no contest to disturbing the peace.

In July 2019, Gomez sued the city and the former officers in federal court.

However, U.S. District Judge Barry Ashe found that the city wasn’t liable in the lawsuit because Sutton and Galman were nothing more than “private citizens in a bar fight.”

Gomez argues that Sutton and Galman were acting like police officers, including identifying themselves as such when they called 911.

“These allegations are key,” the circuit court panel said in its unsigned opinion. “A victim usually does not follow orders from someone who just attacked him without good reason to do so. He is even less likely do so when — as alleged here — the victim was in the process of escaping his attackers.”

The panel was made up of Judges Carl E. Stewart, James Ho and Kurt Engelhardt.

In a concurring opinion, Ho called the question of whether the city could be held responsible at this point a “close case.” However, he added that he was “happy” to reverse Ashe on the point.

“If the allegations in this case are true, the officers have not merely brutalized one man — they have badly undermined public trust in law enforcement. And unfortunately, the misconduct alleged here is not unique,” he said.

In a statement, New Orleans police spokesperson Gary Scheets noted that the officers were quickly suspended.

“While NOPD cannot comment specifically on active litigation, the department’s swift action related to the suspension and subsequent termination of these two officers is a clear statement that this sort of behavior was not, and will not be tolerated at NOPD,” Scheets said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Members of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, trai...
Associated Press

US draws down Ukraine embassy presence as war fears mount

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department on Sunday ordered the families of all American personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine to leave the country amid heightened fears of a Russian invasion. The department told the dependents of staffers at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv that they must leave the country. It also said that […]
21 hours ago
This cover image provided by Random House shows "A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Blac...
Associated Press

Hanif Abdurraqib, Tom Lin receive Carnegie literary awards

NEW YORK (AP) — Receiving a literary prize from the American Library Association is a kind of homecoming for the essayist-poet Hanif Abdurraqib. “When I was young, I treated the library as a place to pass time, to get lost in books that I could have otherwise not afforded to own, music that I could […]
21 hours ago
FILE - Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivers an address, during the COP26 Summit, at t...
Associated Press

News report: Australian leader’s WeChat account taken over

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s account on Chinese-owned social media platform WeChat was taken over and renamed, and a lawmaker on Monday accused China’s leaders of political interference. Morrison’s 76,000 WeChat followers were notified his page had been renamed “Australian Chinese new life” earlier this month and his photograph had been […]
21 hours ago
FILE - Bob Spalding, left, and Don Wilson of The Ventures perform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame...
Associated Press

Don Wilson, guitarist with The Ventures, dies at 88

Don Wilson, co-founder and rhythm guitarist of the instrumental guitar band The Ventures, has died at the age of 88.
21 hours ago
Associated Press

Virginia’s new AG removes 2 lawyers at public universities

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Virginia’s new Attorney General Jason Miyares has fired lawyers for two large public universities, his office said, marking more significant changes as the Republican ascends to his new job. Tim Heaphy, counsel for the University of Virginia, and George Mason University counsel Brian Walther have been let go, Miyares spokesperson Victoria […]
21 hours ago
FILE - Former Gonzaga player John Stockton talks about his career during a National Collegiate Bask...
Associated Press

Gonzaga suspends Stockton’s season tickets over mask rule

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Gonzaga has suspended John Stockton’s basketball season tickets after the Hall of Fame point guard refused to comply with the university’s mask mandate. Stockton, one of Gonzaga’s most prominent alums, confirmed the move in a Saturday interview with The Spokesman-Review. “Basically, it came down to, they were asking me to wear […]
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Thyroid issues: Here are the warning signs and what to do

In a 100-person office in the United States, an estimated 12 co-workers, employees and loved ones, will likely develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. That’s because, according to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12% of the U.S. population will experience thyroid issues.
Canvas Annuity

Annuity basics: how to retire with a guaranteed paycheck for life

Does the thought of retirement fill you with stress or with happiness? Everyone wants to spend their retirement in a way that brings them the most joy, whether that’s traveling the world or spending extra time at home with grandkids.
(Facebook Photo/NHTSA)...
Sweet James

Upcoming holiday season is peak time for DUI arrests

The holiday season may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the most dangerous time of the year to be driving. That’s why it’s important to remember to call Sweet James Accident Attorneys if you’re injured or arrested because of a DUI accident.
Man can revive suit against New Orleans over police beating