Saturday, August 27, 2016

LPD Officers Apologize to Vanderplaats for Behavior As Part of Legal Settlement

Tim VanderPlaats
It's finally over for Tim VanderPlaats.  The legal battle that began over four years ago against the Lafayette Police Department and individual police officers came to an end this month after an out-of-court settlement was reached. 

VanderPlaats was beaten unconscious near his home shortly after he was verbally harassed and threatened by drunken LPD police officers at a local restaurant.  None of the officers were charged with the crimes they committed, and they all kept their jobs as police officers.  This was unacceptable to the victim, so he pursued the matter in court.

An appeals court judge eventually relieved the City of Lafayette from the case, but allowed it to proceed against individual officers.  Charlie Williams, Jr. had admitted that he left graphic and threatening voice messages. 

VanderPlaats contended that the officer suspected of beating him was, in fact, on duty at the time the crime occurred; however, unless one of the officers breaks the "code of silence," there is not enough evidence to prove it.

Ironically, VanderPlaats received the one thing he wanted from the beginning, which was an apology from the officers and their city bosses.  In exchange for closing the matter, VanderPlaats recently accepted letters of apology from the City of Lafayette, Charlie Williams, Jr., and Michael Barthelemy.

"They said they were sorry for all the unlawful calls, terrible voicemails and being drunk and stupid," stated Tim VanderPlaats.  "They said they would take it all back if they could."

VanderPlaats was also reimbursed by the City of Lafayette for the enormous legal fees he incurred in the matter.   "It was never about the money," said VanderPlaats.  "It was always about the injustice of it all."

VanderPlaats is relieved it is over, and that although it was horrible what they did, he says apologies were helpful as he seeks to find closure for the horrific nightmare that he and his family suffered.

The letters have not yet been released to the public; however, VanderPlaats says that the sincerest apology came from Charlie Williams, Jr.  "He seemed to be genuinely sorry," commented VanderPlaats.

VanderPlaats' supporters are also happy that it's over for Tim.

"He took on the establishment for the good of the community," commented one Lafayette resident who asked to remain unnamed.  "If an average citizen would have committed these crimes, he would have a criminal record now, and he certainly wouldn't be put in charge of upholding the laws they broke."

Tim is moving on with his life, and he doesn't have time to hold any grudges.  He is now happily married and the couple have a beautiful baby girl to focus on.

It's too bad it took city officials over four years to do the right thing.  Properly handled, this matter could have been settled years ago.  Victims should not be forced to seek justice in civil court.  The individual officers were finally set free to make proper amends, so now their lives can move in a more positive direction as well. 

Let the healing begin.