A judge in Louisiana, Michelle Odinet, has asked for “forgiveness and understanding” after a video surfaced capturing a series of racist remarks as her family gathered to watch security footage of an attempted burglary at their home.
A Black man was reportedly arrested in connection with the burglary at the Lafayette City Court judge’s home in Bendel Gardens over the weekend.
A video that circulated after the incident appeared to show members of her family joking and using the N-word to recap the burglary while they watched the security footage.
Odinet, who has four children, confirmed to local news site The Current that the footage was from her home. It’s unclear who shot it, who exactly is using the language and who sent it to several members of the local media.
The site also published the video, which contains disturbing and explicit language amid joking and laughter.
At one point, a voice is heard saying, “And mom’s yelling n****r, n****r,” to which a woman’s voice answered: “We have a n****r. It’s a n****r, like a roach.”
Reached by The Current for comment, Odinet said she had been unable to sleep since the incident, had taken a sedative at the time of the video and didn’t remember what was said.
“My children and I were the victim [sic] of an armed burglary at our home. The police were called and the assailant was arrested. The incident shook me to my core and my mental state was fragile,” she said.
“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.”
She added: “Anyone who knows me and my husband, knows this is contrary to the way we live our lives. 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.”
Despite Odinet’s claims, Lafayette police said no weapon was found on the man they arrested.
The footage sparked condemnation and calls for her resignation from local officials and community members.
“I strongly believe Judge Odinet should be held accountable,” Lafayette City Marshall Reggie Thomas said in a lengthy statement published by KATC3.
“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. This type of language cannot be accepted or tolerated by anyone, especially those who serve as leaders in our city,” he said.
State Sen. Gerald Boudreaux said that the comments were reprehensible and that he would pursue an investigation.
“I respectfully request and will officially petition that the Judiciary Commission of Louisiana investigate the ethical conduct and actions associated with the recent developments,” he said in a statement.
Odinet, a Republican, was elected to her seat in November 2020.