Jail Board Meeting (copy)

Sarah LaRue, the mother of James LaRue, speaks with members of the Daviess-DeKalb Regional Jail board at a previous meeting. A guard was previously terminated after an investigation into allegations of abuse and a criminal charge was filed.

While a criminal charge has been filed against a former Daviess-DeKalb Regional Jail guard over a pepper-spray incident, officials who oversee the facility told a federal judge they aren’t legally responsible.

A lawyer for the officials, comprised of a mix of county commissioners, sheriffs and jail administrators, filed a response to the lawsuit brought by James LaRue, the man who was pepper-sprayed, last Friday.

“Answering defendants are protected from liability by virtue of Missouri’s sovereign immunity statute,” the defendants said. “There is no evidence or allegation that the alleged governmental misconduct was the result of deliberate indifference by answering defendants.”

A criminal charged was filed against the jail guard who sprayed LaRue, Keven Jaques.

Jaques was fired from his position at the jail.

“The deployment of the pepper spray was against orders, and in violation of the jail’s use of force policy and (LaRue) was not a threat to himself or anyone else,” Jared Hogan, a law enforcement officer with the Daviess County Sheriff’s Office, wrote in a probable cause statement.

In his own, separate response to the civil lawsuit, Jaques defended his actions.

“Defendant (Jaques) alleges that any and all actions or acts committed by him or on his behalf were discretionary in nature and taken in good faith and were objectively reasonable,” David Baker, Jaques’ defense attorney, wrote in a court filing.

In the lawsuit, LaRue said he was placed on suicide watch and then pepper-sprayed while naked.” The spray hit is “face, chest, genitals and entire body.”

The other named defendants in the lawsuit include DeKalb County Sheriff Andy Clark (who is since deceased), Daviess County Sheriff Ben Becerra, Daviess County Presiding Commissioner Jim Ruse and DeKalb County Presiding Commissioner Kyle Carroll.

The jail’s administration, Deputy Director Timothy Carder and Director Edmond Howard Jr., also are named as defendants, as are other jail guards.

During a public meeting earlier this year, the officials told News-Press NOW they can’t comment on pending litigation.

Matt Hoffmann can be reached at matt.hoffmann@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NpNowHoffmann.