Youngsville Mayor Ken Ritter Issues Statement on Controversial Crash Involving Councilmember, Police Chief
Youngsville Mayor Ken Ritter has released a statement in the wake of recent backlash surrounding a controversial crash that happened in Sugar Mill Pond involving a city councilwoman and the police chief.
Although the crash happened in November 2022, a recent report from The Advocate raised concerns from some who felt like Councilwoman Kayla Menard Reaux received preferential treatment after crashing her vehicle into an SUV that was parked along the street in the Youngsville neighborhood. Reaux admitted to being distracted before crashing into the SUV, but the impact was so intense that it left both vehicles undrivable.
But according to Megan Wyatt with The Advocate, Reaux was never issued a citation nor was she asked to take a field sobriety test at the scene of the crash despite the officer asking her if she had been drinking prior to the accident.
At least two separate videos were posted by The Advocate, captured by body cams worn by Youngsville police officers who responded to the crash.
In the videos, Police Chief Rickey Boudreaux can be seen arriving on the scene after he was reportedly phoned by Councilwoman Reaux who had just left his residence after arriving home from a long trip out of state.
Police body cam video also captured the exchange between the Youngsville councilwoman and the officers, as she was very dismissive and, at some points, disrespectful toward them while they worked the crash investigation.
Reaux has since released a statement, apologizing for her behavior toward the officers and stating that she was concussed as a result of the impact which led her to act out of character.
Youngsville Police Chief Rickey Boudreaux has also released a statement to our media partners at KATC in response to those who feel like his presence on the scene intimidated the officers or caused them to give Reaux any type of preferential treatment.
This statement is in response to the recent article published by The Advocate on Sunday March 26, 2023. The article at issue stems from a motor vehicle collision involving Councilwoman Kayla Reaux, which occurred on November 12, 2022, at approximately 11:41 PM.
The video footage extracted from the officers’ body camera are the best evidence of the events which transpired on the night at issue. The article seeks to have the readers believe influence was placed upon the investigating officers given Ms. Reaux’s position as a City Councilwoman. Nothing could be further from the truth and the video shows just that. I, at no moment, directed or implied that Councilwoman Reaux should receive preferential treatment. I do not condone Councilwoman Reaux’s behavior towards the officer(s) on scene and the video shows me telling her to stop.
A careful examination of the footage, inclusive of the associated audio, evidences the investigating officers discussing whether a citation should be issued. At no time did I, as a supervisory officer and head of the department, interfere or participate in this discussion. All officers are afforded discretion in determining whether a citation should be issued and/or a sobriety test should be administered. After a thorough review of the videos produced, I feel the footage corroborates the officers’ decisions in exercising their discretion. Bear in mind these officers are protected under Civil Service from any political influence or retaliation. It should be noted that one of the investigating officers clearly states that regardless of “who is on scene,” he may elect to exercise his discretion and take over the investigation of this incident. Proof positive no influence was being exerted upon these officers. Not to mention, those who live in Youngsville and who know me, I personally respond to a number of incidents no matter who is involved, and they receive exactly the same treatment. I have served this community with Honor and Respect and will continue to do so with all of my abilities. I welcome any inquiries into this matter and feel this is my obligation as a public servant to the citizens of Youngsville.
Many argued that Boudreaux arriving on the scene to assist Reaux during the investigation was enough to influence the investigation let alone the police chief introducing Reaux to the officers as a Youngsville Councilmember. At one point Boudreaux even sang along with Reaux to "8-6-7-5-3-0-9" as she gave the responding officers a fake phone number.
As concern from residents of Youngsville and beyond mounted in the days following the initial Advocate report, Youngsville Mayor Ken Ritter issued a statement condemning Councilwoman Reaux's behavior during the November 2022 crash investigation.
I condemn the unprofessional comments and behavior displayed by Ms. Reaux during her November automobile accident and during the incidents that followed. While uncharacteristic of her usual behavior, there is an expectation that those elected to serve are held to a higher standard. Officers should always be treated with respect and dignity, and as community leaders, we must set that example.
The Youngsville Mayor also announced that a special council meeting has been called for this Thursday to consider an independent investigation of Youngsville Police Chief Rickey Boudreaux.
Youngsville Police Department Officers are career civil servants with job security that should be able to conduct themselves without fear of political pressure or retaliation. I trust their training and judgment. In an effort to eliminate allegations and to restore confidence in the integrity of the Youngsville Police Department, a special council meeting to consider an independent investigation of the Chief of Police has been called for this Thursday at 5 pm at the Youngsville Municipal Complex 201 Iberia Street.
Unlike some cities where the police chief is appointed, Youngsville's Chief of Police is an elected position.
While some have publicly called for action from the Youngvsille Mayor and/or council members, due to the Lawrason Act elected police chiefs are granted special supervisory authority over the police department that it does not provide for appointed police chiefs.
The meeting to discuss any possible investigation will take place at 5 p.m. this Thursday (Mar. 30) at the Youngsville Municipal Complex.