THIBODAUX, Louisiana -- It was an emergency. Or at least a Houma man thought so.
Kevin J. Ledet, 29, under arrest at the Thibodaux Police Department, had to go to the bathroom early Saturday morning, but he couldn’t get to one. That’s because he was in a holding cell waiting for police to book him for allegedly slapping a waitress.
What’s a guy to do? Police say Ledet called 911 on his cell phone to report his situation.
The call, which went to Lafourche 911 operators, was transferred back to Thibodaux, where officers failed to see Ledet’s full bladder as a life-threatening emergency. He was additionally charged with misuse of the parish’s 911 system.
Ledet’s night started sliding downhill about 2 a.m. when he entered the Huddle House restaurant at Acadia Truck Plaza at La. 308 and St. Patrick Highway.
A waitress there told police she was waiting on customers when Ledet approached her and insisted she take his order. When the woman said she would do so in a second, police allege Ledet grabbed her shoulder and slapped her in the face.
When officers arrived at the 24-hour restaurant, Ledet, 204 St. Peter St., Houma, appeared intoxicated and admitted he had "messed up," a police report states. Although simple battery, a misdemeanor, is often a charge that simply involves a ticket, police took Ledet to the police department to prevent any further dispute at the Huddle House, Thibodaux Police spokeswoman Detective Laura Guise said.
He was booked on allegations of simple battery and misrepresentation during booking, a charge Ledet earned after he allegedly refused to sign booking documents or allow himself to be fingerprinted. He was put into a holding cell, which had no toilet.
The small cells are equipped with cameras, allowing department employees to see what people are doing while they are being booked, Guise said.
"I can’t answer that, I don’t know," Guise said when asked why Ledet didn’t simply ask someone if he could use the bathroom.
Normally, people are not allowed to take cell phones into holding pens, but sometimes the phones aren’t discovered by arresting officers, she added.
Ledet was released from the parish jail after posting a $750 bond. A telephone number listed under his name has been disconnected, says a prerecorded message, and he could not be reached for comment.
This year, 987 calls have been listed as misuse, or frivolous calls. Most of those are children playing on the phone or people calling for things like getting locked out of their cars, said Katy Zeringue, 911 administrator for Lafourche Parish.
"Our biggest problem is people who give their old cell phones to children who can still call 911 on them," she said.
One call to emergency dispatchers drew widespread attention last November when Sharita Williams of Houma called 911 to report she’d been served cold onion rings at Malt N’Burger in Thibodaux.
Williams, 30, told responding officers her food was cold when she received it, and the attendant refused to replace it with a new order.