Mishaps with department-issued weapon continue to plague Port Allen officer
BATON ROUGE- A high-ranking member of the Port Allen Police Department has been disciplined and was ordered to be retrained online after two mishaps with his department-issued weapon at his apartment in Baton Rouge.
In two different cases, Alaric Celestaine's pistol and AR-15 accidentally went off in less than a year. Seasoned firearms instructors say that's extremely concerning and said Celestaine either doesn't understand the mechanics of the weapons he's handling or he does not know how to use them. An anonymous instructor added that one accidental discharge is concerning and two is alarming. He spoke to WBRZ anonymously because they "don't talk about law enforcement."
The WBRZ Investigative Unit also found that before the two accidental discharges, Celestaine shot a dog in Baton Rouge last year after the animal approached him.
"My son and I were in the living room, and we heard a gunshot," said Everett Latiolais, a witness to the dog shooting. "I immediately stuck my head outside and the officer was standing there and I saw a dog run away."
The dog survived after several surgeries, but not before Latiolais recalls a supervisor coming to the scene.
"He basically gave him the riot act," Latiolais said of the supervisor talking to Celestaine. "He [Celestaine] said he had been bitten in the past and said it was a knee-jerk reaction."
Through a public records request, the WBRZ Investigative Unit found out Celestaine was clearing out his pistol in April 2018 when it went off in his apartment on July Street. He was given a verbal warning. Less than a year later, he was clearing out his AR-15 when it went off inside the same apartment. That time he told investigators he was "tired."
"He's one of our best, one of our top dealing with weapons," Port Allen Police Chief Esdron Brown said.
Brown told WBRZ, despite the problems, Celestaine is one of his most respected officers. A firearms instructor said if he's the best, the public should be concerned about the rest of the department as multiple accidental discharges are uncommon.
"We have given him some additional training on that," Brown said. "He took classes on that, fatigue classes... Working long hours and messing with your weapon."
As concern grows over how this keeps happening for an officer who carries weapon certifications, people who came close to dealing with one of Celestaine's mistakes are worried.
"It is concerning that a police officer has a weapon and doesn't know how to use it properly," Latiolais said.
When asked about the dog Celestaine shot, Brown said he shot the animal in self-defense.