Michelle M. Odinet, a judge in Lafayette, Louisiana, is facing calls to resign from her position and has taken an unpaid leave of absence after a video with racist language recorded at her home came to light, CNN reports.
Dane Ciolino, Odinet’s attorney, told the Acadiana Advocate she feels “humiliated, embarrassed, and sorry for what she has done and the harm she has caused to the community,” and is taking unpaid leave.
“What happens in the long term is something she is going to think about in the weeks to come,” Ciolino’s statement read.
According to the Lafayette Police Department, at around 2:00 a.m. Saturday, two vehicles were burglarized in the driveway of Ms. Odinet’s property.
As the suspect attempted to flee on foot, he was tracked down by the victim, who happened to be returning home when she saw the suspect getting out of one of her vehicles. The police said that Odinet held the suspect down until they arrived on the scene.
Surveillance footage appears to show the outdoor altercation with the burglary suspect being played on television while people, who are not visible, view and give racist commentary. The video was shared with local media in Lafayette and across social media.
Authorities are not sure who shared the footage.
In the video that has since gone viral, a man is heard saying, “And Mom’s yelling n***er, n***er.” Then, the woman is heard saying, “We have a n ***er, It’s a n***er, like a roach,” while laughing.
In a statement to KATC, Odinet said she had been “given a sedative” and had no “recollection of the video and the disturbing language used during it.”
“My children and I were the victims of an armed burglary at our home,” the statement read. “The police were called, and the assailant was arrested. The incident shook me to my core and my mental state was fragile. I was a wreck and am still unable to sleep. I was given a sedative at the time of the video. I have zero recollection of the video and the disturbing language used during it.”
“Anyone who knows me and my husband knows this is contrary to the way we live our lives,” she added. “I am deeply sorry and ask for your forgiveness and understanding as my family and I deal with the emotional aftermath of this armed burglary.”
Michael Toussaint., NAACP Chapter President of the Lafayette branch, called for Odinet’s immediate resignation.
“We call now for her immediate and uncompromising resignation, failing same, we demand swift and immediate act by the Judiciary Committee of the Louisiana Supreme Court, removing her from office,” he said.
Josh Guillory, Mayor-President of Lafayette’s Consolidated Government, said he was disgusted by the reports about Odinet.
“This type of language is hurtful, divisive, and unacceptable,” he said in a statement. “The fairness and objectivity of our courts are the foundation of our legal system. It is my hope that the judge will do what is best to help the community heal and move forward.”
Reggie Thomas, City Marshall of Layfayette, said that the language in the video was hurtful to his core.
“I am certain that most people of color share my pain when the N-word is used to describe us,” he explained. “With that being said, I’m sure that people of color will find it impossible to trust that they will be treated fairly and equally when they have to stand for judgment before Judge Odinet.”
Thomas, who was the first African American elected to a citywide position in Lafayette, said Odinet should be held accountable.
“It is up to Judge Odinet to remember the oath she took,” he said.