The Metairie man known locally for owning Big Lee's Towing Co. and being a superfan of LSU's football team was jailed Tuesday on allegations that he backed his tow truck into a woman during an argument at a Kenner trailer park this month.
Leeroyal "Big Lee" Martin, 53, was picked up on a Kenner Police Department warrant accusing him of aggravated battery following a Nov. 19 incident that was partially recorded on a cellphone camera.
A WWL-TV news crew captured footage of the arrest, which showed Martin wearing a purple LSU hat and a matching "Big Lee's" T-shirt near one of his famous white, purple and gold tow trucks.
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"I don't know what's going on, sir," Martin told the station as authorities loaded him into the back of an unmarked truck. "I didn't hit anybody."
Several months ago he wrote on Facebook that he owned Metairie and the police worked for him.
According to Kenner police, Martin was at a trailer park in the 100 block of West Airline Drive visiting a friend about 6:15 p.m. Nov. 19.
Martin stepped out of the trailer when he heard a commotion near his tow truck and found a 44-year-old woman complaining that the truck was blocking her parking space, Kenner police said. Officers were eventually called to the scene to investigate a report that Martin had hit the woman with his truck.
According to Kenner Police Lt. Brian McGregor, the woman seemed to be intoxicated and couldn't initially give a coherent account about what had happened. Three days later, she went to Kenner police headquarters to make a statement, which was supported by video from a cellphone she provided to investigators, McGregor said.
The woman told police she had repeatedly asked Martin to move his truck, but he refused, so she grabbed her cellphone to take video and pictures of the truck. Martin then allegedly began shining a flashlight in her eyes and backed his truck up toward her, though he stopped before hitting her.
The woman said Martin then pulled forward, put the truck in reverse again, and backed up until he hit her in the legs, according to police.
In the video, which surfaced on Facebook on Nov. 21, the woman can be heard saying, "He's hitting me. He is actually (expletive) driving into me. He's actually (expletive) hitting me, mom." The Facebook post containing the video says the woman who was hit had bruises on her legs.
Police obtained a warrant for Martin's arrest after reviewing the clip, McGregor said.
Martin, who says his nickname is an homage to former Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee, couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.
According to McGregor, on the night of the fracas, Martin claimed he apologized to the woman for parking where he did and tried to leave before she stopped him by placing her hands on the back of his truck.
Martin said he got out of his truck, again asked the woman to move and tried to leave again, but then he was flagged down and told he had hit the woman, according to McGregor. Martin "adamantly denied" he struck the woman, McGregor said.?
Police didn't identify the woman Martin is accused of hitting, but WWL-TV identified her as Catherine Powell. Her attorney told the station she intends to sue Martin.
Martin's house near Bonnabel Boulevard and the North Interstate 10 Service Road is a sort of Metairie landmark. The front of the home is decked out in purple-and-gold LSU signs, among them two Mike the Tiger stand-up cutouts.
A truck with a lift kit and a color scheme matching those on his towing vehicles is usually parked in the driveway, advertising his company and his love for LSU.
NOLA.com profiled Martin's LSU fandom in a story earlier this year, describing his agony after the Tigers were badly beaten by Mississippi State, before they?then lost to heavy underdog Troy University. The story called particular attention to the purple-and-gold casket Lee expects to be buried in; it sits in his dining room.
WWL-TV's Paul Murphy and Steve Wolfram contributed to this report.