Ferriday indictments include false imprisonment

Published 2:58 pm Wednesday, March 19, 2008

VIDALIA — The charges against five former or current employees of the Ferriday Police Department indicted Tuesday range from aggravated assault to felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile.

A Concordia Parish grand jury handed down the indictments against Ferriday officers John Hawkins, Rickey Hollins, former officer Willie B. Robinson, former police chief and current Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office employee Robert Davis, former officer Juanita January and civilian Arthur Johnson Tuesday after an investigation that began in October.

The grand jury investigation was opened after the district attorney’s office received and investigated complaints about the Ferriday Police Department over a two-year period, District Attorney John Johnson said in a statement.

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“I’ll let the indictments speak for themselves,” Johnson said. “The grand jury worked tirelessly and followed the evidence where it led them.”

Johnson said he would not answer further questions.

Police Chief Richard Madison said he believes the officers will ultimately be proven innocent.

“An indictment is not a conviction,” Madison said. “Anyone can be indicted. An indictment is a one-sided presentation of what a person is calling evidence. Jesus Christ was indicted, and he was perfect.”

Madison said he has not yet had anyone lodge a complaint with him about the alleged incidents that led to the indictments.

“The first time I heard about this was from the newspaper,” he said.

The police department did conduct an internal affairs investigation on January, and passed on the information to the DA’s office, but they chose not to act on it at that time, Madison said.

Whether Hawkins or Hollins are placed on administrative leave is ultimately up to the mayor, but Madison said he would recommend they retain their positions for the present.

During the grand jury hearings, which took place in October and February, 17 witnesses presented testimony.

All of those indicted, except January, were booked at the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office and later released on bond.

January reportedly no longer lives in the area, and warrants have reportedly been issued for her arrest.

Hawkins was charged with two counts of false imprisonment in regard to the arrests of Vanessa Brannon and Leslie Parker, two counts of malfeasance in office and simple battery.

Hawkins was released on a $15,500 bond Tuesday.

Hollins was charged with false imprisonment, simple battery and aggravated assault in regard to the arrest of Shan Pearson, who was reportedly pepper-sprayed during the alleged incident.

Hollins was also charged with malfeasance in office and first degree injuring of public records for allegedly filing false reports.

Hollins was released on a $24,000 bond Tuesday.

Robinson and Davis were both charged with false imprisonment and malfeasance in office in regard to the arrest of Curtis Nelson.

Davis and Robinson were both released on $6,500 bonds Tuesday

Johnson, a former towing service employee, was charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle because he allegedly moved Nelson’s vehicle without proper permission after Nelson’s arrest.

Johnson was released on a $5,000 bond Tuesday.

January was charged with felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile because of sexual contact she allegedly had with a minor younger than the age of 17 during 2006 and 2007.

The investigation is considered ongoing.

An indictment is a grand jury’s declaration that they believe there is enough evidence to take a person to trial on the charges brought before them.