A Shreveport man was arrested outside a local casino after police say he left four small children alone in his truck. But 24-year-old Dallen Thomas now says he only did it to get free food for those kids.
In an interview from his home on Thursday, Thomas said this ordeal all began when he recently got a free meal voucher in the mail from Margaritaville Casino. Thomas said he saw it as a great way to feed four children he was caring for last Friday night.
Instead, it turned into a one way ticket to jail because Thomas admitted leaving the kids alone in his truck, for what he described as about 15-minutes or so, while he went inside to get that free food.
Thomas even showed us how he rolled down all the windows of his truck for the kids who included: "My 2-year old, my 5-year old, my friend's 2-year-old and my niece, she was nine," said Thomas.
It was about 5:30 p.m. last Friday night when he parked the truck outside the casino, "To get the food for my kids because I didn't have no money besides the gas money to get home."
Thomas said when he returned less than 20-minutes later, walking out with two pizzas and four cold soft drinks, Bossier City Police officers were standing by the truck. Police Spokesman Mark Natale explained, "There were two women walking in the parking lot who noticed these children in a pickup truck unattended."
Police quickly responded. The windows were rolled down, as Thomas described to us. But Natale said the temperature was 90 degrees outside at the time, with all the children inside the truck under the age of 10. That's the legal minimum age for being left alone.
Natale continued, "The officers felt that these children were put in a particular situation where they could not reasonably care for themselves, which fits the statute of child desertion."
But Thomas questioned, "Child desertion? That's intentionally deserting your kids. I was going to go get food for my kids." Thomas said he tried to explain the situation to the officers and why he felt he couldn't take the kids inside with him. "I thought that you had to go through the casino to get to the restaurants so you can't take the kids in the casinos."
Thomas called his father, Robert Washington, who arrived just in time to see police drive Dallen away and to see the crying children who still hadn't eaten. Washington told us, "I was really upset by the fact that the kids was upset and was crying and everything."
Thomas would spend the next four days in jail, before finally posting bail. Worse yet, Thomas has always dreamed of becoming a police officer himself. Thomas says he already passed the civil service test and claims he was to begin his training as a cadet at the Shreveport Police Academy this fall.
But Shreveport Police tell KSLA News 12 you must be hired by the department to go through the academy. And Chief Administrative Assistant Bill Goodin says Thomas has not been hired. Thomas now says he's still going through the application process.