The probe comes as the police force is being sued over how detainees were handled, including at a closed police warehouse that personnel allegedly referred to as the “brave cave,” per the allegations.
Investigators are “reviewing the matter for potential federal violations,” the FBI New Orleans said in a statement on Friday, urging anyone with information on the case to contact them. The investigation has been launched by the New Orleans FBI Field Office, the Civil Rights Division, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana.
The announcement follows the filing of many federal lawsuits last month that target the Baton Rouge Police Department and the city of Baton Rouge.
The Baton Rouge Police Department claimed they are “committed to addressing these troubling allegations and have launched administrative and criminal investigations” in a statement to news channels. Chief Paul met with FBI representatives and asked for their help in ensuring an impartial investigation of these concerns. The Street Crimes Unit has been abolished and reallocated, and the Narcotics Processing Facility has been permanently shut down.
We contacted the FBI to conduct an unbiased, outside inquiry in light of the serious allegations. We also quickly disbanded the street crimes unit and shut down the “brave cave” facility. The Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, who ordered the facility to be shut down after discovering of its existence, claimed to news reporters in a statement that the BRPD is also pursuing its own criminal and administrative investigations.
“We are devoted to discovering the truth about what transpired at this facility. The most important thing is that we care about justice. Anyone with pertinent information or similar experiences is welcome to file a complaint using the web portal we’ve established at brpd.com, the message continued.
The most recent lawsuit, filed on Monday, alleges that officers “sexually humiliated” Ternell Brown, a Baton Rouge grandmother who was stopped on suspicion of criminal wrongdoing while carrying prescription pills, according to the lawsuit.
Officers allegedly refused to examine the prescriptions that Brown says proved she was entitled to carry the medication. Instead, Brown was humiliated during an examination at the so-called brave cave a warehouse used by the Baton Rouge Police Department’s Street Crimes Unit on June 10 and then released without charge, according to the lawsuit.
The complaint from Brown is seeking unspecified damages for multiple alleged violations, including unreasonable search, battery, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment.
Unlawful behaviour at the facility is alleged in a different federal case that was filed last month. According to the complaint, which was submitted on behalf of Jeremy Lee, Lee was beaten by police on January 9 and sustained a fractured rib. According to the complaint, Lee was not accused of any criminal offence that resulted in his detention; rather, the cause for his detention was that he resisted an officer. The case seeks unspecified damages for alleged violations including excessive force, unjustified search, and retribution.
An encounter with Baton Rouge police officers outside a hospital on October 8, 2022, is the basis of a third federal lawsuit, which was filed last month. It also makes allegations of excessive force and retaliatory breaches. According to the lawsuit, two of the plaintiffs were wrongfully detained and eventually had their charges dropped.