Four Baton Rouge police officers are facing impending criminal charges stemming from a 2020 incident in which members of the disbanded Street Crimes Unit unlawfully used force on an individual in custody and attempted to destroy video evidence, according to Chief Murphy Paul. The incident has sparked internal and federal investigations into the department's practices, following accusations of police brutality at a now-shuttered intake facility referred to in federal lawsuits as a "torture warehouse” or “Brave Cave.”
The incident in question occurred in September 2020 when officers attempted a strip-search at the First District Precinct. Two officers used a Taser on the suspect, which inadvertently activated their body cameras, capturing an officer striking the suspect. Subsequently, a package fell from the suspect's person believed to be synthetic marijuana.
At a press conference held at Police Headquarters, Chief Paul and Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome stressed their commitment to transparency in addressing the issues within the department, acknowledging the need to root out long-standing problems.
The arrests could potentially impact "several hundred" criminal cases, casting doubt on the officers' credibility, according to District Attorney Hillar Moore. Attorneys representing plaintiffs in the BRAVE Cave lawsuit believe that the destruction of evidence may extend beyond this incident.
In response to the ongoing investigations, Mayor Broome called for the formation of an independent commission to review police actions and complaints, acknowledging the challenges of changing the department's culture.
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Link: The Advocate