West Baton Rouge Parish Councilwoman Charlene Gordon is suing the city of Port Allen for alleged public humiliation after what she said was a wrongful arrest.
The suit stems from a dispute between the Parish Councilwoman and a school bus driver over Gordon’s grandson last year. Gordon made threatening comments to the driver, Barbara Henderson, via Facebook and argued with the woman verbally about the child’s behavior.
Gordon turned herself in on April 20, 2016, for public intimidation of a school bus driver, but her suit alleges there was no “valid warrant” for her arrest and no probable cause.
The District Attorney’s office did not charge Gordon with the crime, citing insufficient evidence. Court records of Gordon’s arrest are no longer publicly available after the arrest was expunged from her record.
Gordon also accused Port Allen Police Officer Bryant Landry of slander for allegedly declaring over the police radio that Gordon was scared to come into work because of her warrant. She also accused Officer Casey Williams for allegedly wrongfully arresting her without reading her her Miranda rights.
Gordon accused the defendants in her suit of malicious behavior designed to embarrass her. She claimed to have lost fees and wages and to have suffered from “extreme mental and emotional anguish,” among other injuries, as a result of the bus driver dispute.
Port Allen Police Chief Esdron Brown, who was named a defendant in the suit, was surprised to find out the District Attorney would not seek charges against Gordon last year.
The whole situation makes it look as if parish officials can get away with breaking the law, he said.
“That puts cops in a bad decision. That makes people think people in certain positions can get away with certain things,” he said. “It’s just terrible that everyone’s forgetting about the victim.”
Henderson, a former employee of Student Transportation Services (STS), had frequent issues with Gordon’s grandson when she began driving the route in early 2016. She reprimanded him on different occasions, according to previous accounts. STS found no wrongdoing on Henderson’s part, according to its internal investigation.
Henderson felt threatened by Gordon, according to an initial police report cited in The West Side Journal.
Gordon’s comments were made primarily via Facebook.
In one incident, after Henderson saw the child playing around out of plain view, she closed the bus doors. Gordon responded on Facebook with: “Here comes this stupid unprofessional bus driver, you closed the door on my baby and hollering at him about what you are not going to do. If you would have pulled off and dragged my baby… This would have been your last day.”
In another case she wrote: “This means war!”
She also used derogatory language to describe Henderson, according to the police.
She does not communicate with Henderson online and did not expect Henderson to see the private Facebook posts, she said in a previous interview. Gordon said the dispute had nothing to do with her position as a Parish Council member.
If Gordon had not been a Parish Councilwoman there would likely be another story, Brown said.
“This lawsuit just shows that you have [officials] who aren’t concerned about their people,” he said.
Charlene Gordon represents Parish Council District 5, which comprises a good portion of the city, from Rosedale Road to about Avenue C.
She ran for the Port Allen City Council-at-Large seat in December, but lost by a mere 13 votes.
Gordon declined to comment on the situation and referred all questions to her attorney, Monique Fields, who was unavailable to comment.