Over at Cato’s Police Misconduct website, we have identified the worst case of the month for March: the conspiracy to frame an innocent man, Douglas Dendinger, in Bogalusa, LA.
Here’s the story: Dendinger agreed to take on the task of a “process server.” That is, he would hand-deliver legal papers to a person who has been sued, putting that person on notice about the legal action. In this instance, Dendinger was to serve papers on a former police officer, Chad Cassard, who was being sued for police brutality.
Dendinger found Cassard as he was leaving the local courthouse and made the delivery. At that moment, Cassard was in the company of several police officers and prosecutors. Those people became hostile and furious with Dendinger over what this lawsuit would mean for their friend/colleague.
The story then takes a bizarre and disturbing turn: Later that day, the police arrive at Dendinger’s home and arrest him on several charges, including two felonies (1) obstruction of justice and (2) witness intimidation. Cassard and a few of his cohorts claimed that Dendinger had served the papers in a violent fashion.
Because of those charges, Dendinger was in very serious legal trouble. He was looking at many years in prison.
Fortunately, a cell phone video of the “incident” emerged. Turns out, Dendinger did nothing wrong. All he did was peacefully hand-deliver an envelope to Cassard. Once the video surfaced, the charges were dropped.
We now know that local police and prosecutors leveled false accusations about what happened that day. Had the case proceeded to trial, and with no video evidence, it would have been Dendinger’s word against several witnesses with law enforcement backgrounds. A jury would have been hard pressed to disbelieve several witnesses who claimed to see the same thing. A miscarriage of justice was narrowly averted.
The cell phone video exposed an outrageous criminal conspiracy by officials in Bogalusa. More here.