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Police killed an autistic teenager. They then filed search warrants to look for past bad behavior.

After Louisiana sheriffs killed a disabled teenager, they filed unconstitutional search warrants to find unflattering information about the 16-year-old, new allegations in an ongoing court case.

Eric Parsa was killed on January 19, 2020 after suffering “sensory overload” in the parking lot in front of a laser tag center in the New Orleans area. Parsa, who was “severely autistic”, obese and nonverbal, became distressed and began hitting himself on the head. He later hit his father and bit him. According to the lawsuit, an employee at the laser tag center asked the family if they wanted help from the police. After the family agreed, the police were called.

According to NBC News, When Parsa punched one of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office (JPSO) deputies who arrived at the scene, the officer wrestled Parsa to the ground, sat on him and put him in a choke hold while his parents looked on. After nine minutes, Parsa became unresponsive and was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

In the days following Parsa’s death, police applied for several search warrants related to Parsa, specifically aimed at investigating the teen’s behavior at school. According to recent reports from The Lensa New Orleans-area public interest newsroom, police appeared keen to find past examples of Parsa’s violent behavior and specifically asked his school about “any incidents of violence or documented reports of behavior,” including a specific request for surveillance footage “in Regarding any outbursts or violent behavior.” Officials even requested that they be allowed to inspect certain parts of the school themselves for “general police inspection” and “obtaining documentary photos.” Police also confiscated Parsa’s medical records, which were being held by his pediatrician.

Judges in Jefferson, St. Charles and Orleans have issued the warrants, despite the legal requirement that warrants be issued only when there is a probable cause for a crime. The Lens reports that “none of the affidavits for the warrants sought in connection with Parsa’s death identified a specific crime that JPSO was investigating. On some of the warrants that could have listed a crime, JPSO wrote “No charges at this time.” For others it was left blank.”

While MPs later defended the warrants as necessary to conduct a full investigation into the incident, several legal experts were unconvinced. “I’m not sure why a judge would have signed them,” said Lucia Blacksher Rainier, a law professor at Tulane University The Lens “They knew they broke the law, and they were trying to find information to point to that would somehow justify breaking the law… That’s my guess.”

“What is the purpose of police looking into all this information other than trying to find an afterthought justification as to why killing this child was appropriate?” Nora Ahmed, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, said The Lens.

Parsa’s parents, who sued the police in 2021, make further allegations of misconduct in their lawsuit against the JPSO. They allege that officials violated the Fourth Amendment by seeking warrants against Parsa’s past behavior without probable cause in order to find an afterthought justification for the boy’s murder.

“JPSO’s admitted use of criminal search warrants without even a suspicion of a crime – much less likely reason – undeniably violates the Fourth Amendment,” attorneys for Parsa’s parents wrote to a federal judge in Louisiana.

Although it is unclear whether the Parsa family’s lawsuit will prevail, the actions alleged by Jefferson Community Police officers are nonetheless disturbing.

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