Former Tulane employee sues university after police shooting

Amy Nankin and Gabby Abrams, News Editors

Tavion Aples, a former Tulane employee, is suing Tulane University and members of Tulane University Police Department for excessive force after they shot into a car with Aples and his child inside. According to his lawsuit, Aples returned to campus on Sept. 6, 2019, after being terminated in late August in order to pick up his last paycheck, per invitation from Sodexo. Upon doing so, he was surrounded by cop cars and shot at. Aples filed the lawsuit on behalf of himself and his son, against Administrators of the Tulane Educational Trust, Harris David, Denis Serena and Kirk Bouyelas Sept. 8, 2020. Sodexo, Inc. is also named as a defendant named in the lawsuit. 

TUPD stated that they approached Aples because they had an arrest warrant for him on charges of indecent exposure and trespass. The charges stemmed from an Aug. 23, 2019, incident in which Aples allegedly went to the Lavin-Bernick Center to pick up a paycheck when a coworker noticed that Aples was following them. Once the coworker turned around, Aples dropped his pants, masturbated and made the co-worker watch him. Aples allegedly told the coworker not to call the police; the coworker later did, however, and Aples was identified by surveillance footage. Police obtained a warrant to arrest him but did not attempt to do so for two weeks. 

The Sept. 6, 2019, incident occurred in an alleyway near the corner of Ben Weiner Drive and South Claiborne Avenue. According to TUPD, Aples, with his son in the car, resisted arrest and reversed his car into a curb, towards police, when he was cornered. The police advanced and began shooting into his vehicle. One of the shots hit Aples in the abdomen. His son was unharmed. Aples was taken to a local hospital and underwent emergency surgery for his gunshot wound where he was later arrested by Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s officers. 

Aples was charged with obscenity, simple assault, resisting police and 2 counts of aggravated assault against a peace officer. Aples pled not guilty and is out on a $14,500 bond while he awaits trial. 

Aples’ lawsuit filed on Sept. 8, 2020, in U.S. District Court states that Tulane officers used excessive force and violated his civil liberties during the Aug. 2019 incident. Aples is seeking damages for emotional distress and pain and suffering, amongst other grievances. He is being represented by New Orleans attorneys George McGregor and Timothy Yazbeck.

Tulane cannot comment on matters of pending litigation. As stated in the record of the Orleans Parish criminal court record, Mr. Aples has been charged with multiple crimes arising from this case including obscenity, aggravated assault on a police officer with a vehicle and resisting arrest by flight

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