The Hancock County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a report of a Bay St. Louis police officer choking a man who was lying in a hospital bed.
Thomas Koenenn III, of Kiln filed the complaint with the Sheriff’s Office on Sunday, about a month after the alleged incident occurred.
It began the night of Sept. 29, the complaint said, when Koenenn and his brother, Cody Koenenn, were at Lil Joe’s Bar in Bay St. Louis’ Depot District. The brothers were outside in the parking area when they got into a fight with several unidentified males.
Thomas Koenenn was hit and knocked unconscious, he said in the complaint, and the next thing he remembered was his brother shaking him and trying to wake him up.
At that time, Bay St. Louis police officers John Nelson and Matt Dickens arrived and ordered them to stay on the ground. The Koenenn brothers told the officers they had been attacked and pointed in the direction the suspects had fled, according to the complaint.
The officers then told the brothers they could either go to the hospital or go to jail for being drunk in public. Thomas Koenenn said he told the officers he had not drunk anything, but the officers arrested both of them.
The officers took the brothers to the Hancock County jail, but a guard there refused to admit the men because they were still bleeding from the assault. The officers then took the men to Hancock Medical Center.
According to Koenenn’s report, the brothers were admitted to a curtained section of the emergency room when Nelson made a comment to Koenenn, prompting Koenenn to respond, “Crooked cops like you is the reason the chief shot his self.” He was referring to the suicide of Bay St. Louis Police Chief Mike De Nardo.
Nelson then pulled the curtain closed and grabbed Koenenn by the throat, choking him, the complaint said.
When the officer released him, Koenenn asked to be examined by a doctor because his neck was hurting, but he said the officers and hospital staff began laughing at him. He was denied a second medical exam and taken to the jail, according to his complaint.
“We were aware of the incident long before the report was made to the Sheriff’s Office,” Mayor Les Fillingame said. “It’s already been an internal investigation as to whether or not the officer acted inappropriately in the face of provocation.”
Fillingame said one officer has been taken off patrol and assigned to inside desk duties. He is waiting on the results of the internal investigation to decide what action, if any, to take with the officer, the mayor said.