Mallory Cains agreed on Monday to formally withdraw her lawsuit against the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office seeking officer body-camera footage from four months ago, when JPSO deputies shot her son, 18-year-old Calvin Cains.

But that doesn’t mean she’s giving up. “People think I’m just trusting the district attorney, that I don’t want to see the body-cam footage. But that’s not true. I’m gonna continue to fight for the body-cam, just not through this section of court,” she said, noting that the judge had instructed her lawyer to let the DA do its investigation and file something else.”

JPSO informed the court that investigation of the incident had been turned over to District Attorney Paul Connick for review.

Cains had argued that she was entitled to body-cam footage, along with a host of other incident-related records that she had requested under state public records law. 

JPSO denied her request, citing an exemption that allows agencies to withhold any records pertaining to “any criminal litigation which can be reasonably anticipated.” 

At a court hearing in the 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna on Monday, Cains’ lawyer DeShawn Hayes said that he had confirmed with the DA’s office that JPSO had turned over the investigation. As a result, Cains agreed to voluntarily withdraw the suit. 

As Hayes understood it, he said, no deputies have been charged in the incident to date, though the conclusions of JPSO’s investigation have not been publicly released.

“No arrests have been made, no charges have been filed, the sheriff’s office has simply given their investigation to the district attorney’s office,” Hayes said following the hearing, 

Those indicators suggest that JPSO’s investigation likely found no illegal wrongdoing in the incident. JPSO could have brought charges themselves if their investigation had found probable cause to believe that a deputy had committed a crime. 

“In cases where we feel there is probable cause, we’ll charge our deputies,” Sheriff Joe Lopinto said in a deposition in January discussing use-of-force investigations.

Calvin Cains was killed on June 6 by JPSO deputies. In a statement to reporters gathered at the shooting scene that day, Lopinto said that Cains had walked out of his mother’s apartment complex on West Esplanade Avenue in Metairie just as deputies had gathered near a stolen car that had been linked to a shooting in New Orleans.

Lopinto said that Cains was preparing to drive at his officers when they opened fire. 

That account was disputed by several eyewitnesses, including Cains’ mother, who said that the car her son was driving was completely boxed in and that deputies never announced themselves or gave him a chance to surrender. 

Hayes said in the coming weeks, Mallory Cains plans to file a “civil-rights and wrongful death lawsuit” against JPSO. They would likely be able to obtain access to the body-camera footage in the course of those proceedings, he said.

The headline and story were edited to reflect that Mallory Cains will continue to pursue bodycam.

Nick Chrastil

Nicholas Chrastil covers criminal justice for The Lens. As a freelancer, his work has appeared in Slate, Undark, Mother Jones, and the Atavist, among other outlets. Chrastil has a master's degree in mass...