Eric Parsa: Parents of 'severely autistic' boy claim his death was caused by deputies who sat on him for 9 mins
Eric Pasa was held down as deputies attempted to calm him down; he died later the same day
METAIRIE, LOUISIANA: The parents of a 16-year-old autistic child are suing the Jefferson Parish Sheriff, several deputies and other parties involved in the death of their son, according to a statement made by the family on January 14. According to the lawsuit, Eric Parsa was held down in a prone position on his stomach while handcuffed and shackled. His arms and legs were held down, while his head, neck and shoulders were encircled by the arm of a deputy, with other JPSO deputies applying their own body weight as a restraint. All this was happening as Eric was suffering an acute sensory overload that was a symptom of his autism.
The lawsuit, filed by Eric's parents Donna Lou and Darren Parsa, describes the original incident that happened on January 19, 2020, where Jefferson Parish deputies attempted to arrest Eric after the boy violently bit his father and one of the other Metairie deputies. The lawsuit alleges that a deputy, who was over 300 pounds, held Eric down for approximately nine minutes with his body weight, despite the fact that there were several moments where Eric was calm and was not resisting arrest. In the lawsuit, the family states that Eric was held in that position until he urinated on himself, and it was only then that he was allowed to be moved to a "recovery position".
According to Brproud.com, the lawsuit states the Jefferson Parish coroner deemed the cause of death to be "excited Delirium due to an Acute Psychotic Episode in the setting of Severe Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Disruptive Behavior Disorder." The coroner was also able to name other identifying factors in Eric's death, namely, morbid obesity with prone positioning and cardiomegaly - an enlarged heart, which can lead to many other heart-related problems. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office classifed the death as accidental.
The suit names Sheriff Joseph Lopinto, as well as his deputies -- Deputy Chad Pitfield, Deputy Ryan Vaught, Deputy Steven Mehrtens, Deputy Shannon Guidry, Deputy Nick Vega, Deputy Manuel Estrada, and Deputy Myron Gaudet, in addition to other deputies known only as "John Doe Deputies 1-3." Through the lawsuit, the family is seeking damages which include covering for funeral fees, burial, and attorney fees, on the grounds that Sheriff Lopinto did not properly investigate the case, and that the deputies involved used "excessive force" against Eric.
A spokesperson for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office said the attack was reported around 1:30 pm. At the time of the incident, Lopito says that deputies were called to the scene to investigate an incidence of violence, and that when the deputies arrived, they found Darren Pasa with multiple bite wounds, including some on his face. Investigators into the case found that Eric remained violent during the deputies' arrest attempt. According to Lopito, Eric suffered a medical emergency during the arrest, and soon became completely unresponsive, after which he was immediately taken to the hospital, where he died.