It happened more than a year ago, but a local lawyer is now bringing one of his cases to the public’s attention in hopes that it won’t happen to anyone else.
Greg Simms is a partner at Murphy & Associates in downtown Louisville. He said his client, Maki Juillerat, was wrongfully arrested in April 2015.
Juillerat served as a sergeant in the United States Army for 16 years.
“He was deployed to Bosnia, Iraq twice and Afghanistan,” Simms said. “After his tours of duty, he was troubled by some pretty serious PTSD.”
Simms said Juillerat was troubled, but determined to not let the illness control him. He started getting treatment at the Robley Rex Veterans Affairs Medical Center. During a session with his therapist in March 2015, he disclosed that he was having suicidal and violent thoughts. He’d recently been pulled over for a traffic violation and described the officer as disrespectful and rude.
“That triggered some thoughts that Maki had, some violent thoughts about shooting the officer,” Simms said. “Maki knows that these thoughts are not normal. Maki knows that these thoughts are bad thoughts. He goes to the VA for that purpose, to seek help, to seek treatment for these thoughts.”
Simms said however serious the thoughts may be, they were simply that and not actual or credible threats.
“I don’t care how heinous your thoughts are. They could be the worst thoughts on the planet. You can’t be arrested for that,” Simms said. “We don’t regulate people’s thoughts in this country. We regulate people’s actions when you do something wrong. We don’t regulate what you think about. That’s a horrible path to go down.”
His doctor did put those thoughts in his chart that another VA employee saw. That employee emailed LMPD and told them Maki was threatening to shoot an officer. According to Simms, his doctor then tried to clarify to LMPD that this was not a threat, but merely a thought. Still, Maki was arrested and spent ten days in jail.
“It was hell. He didn’t understand why he was in jail. He had been told it was for terroristic threatening, which sounds horrible. You see that on somebody’s record and you think that somebody is a monster,” Simms said.
A judge dropped the charges last May, but Simms said both the VA and LMPD still need to be held accountable.
“It’s extremely important that the people that did wrong are told by their employers ‘you’re not supposed to do this,” Simms said.
Simms said people can’t be punished for their thoughts, but especially not a veteran trying to get help for problems stemming from their service.
“If we can’t afford to treat them correctly, then we can’t afford to send them off,” Simms said. “Maki Juillerat is an American hero. When you serve for 16 years and you’re out there in the thick of things, it’s not like he was just sitting behind a desk, he’s out there really fighting to protect the rights of Americans. If he can’t get that help, that’s a massive problem. It could’ve been catastrophic. Lives could be lost over this type of thing. I mean the bottom line is we don’t treat our veterans like this.” – WHAS 11
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