Health Management

‘Brave Cave’ Lawsuits: Baton Rouge Police Accused of Abuse at Warehouse


A grandmother detained by the Baton Rouge police for mixing two completely different prescription drugs in the identical container mentioned officers interrogated and humiliated her in an unmarked “torture warehouse” generally known as the Courageous Cave, in accordance with a lawsuit filed final week.

The lady, Ternell L. Brown, was pulled over by officers on June 10 and “forcibly” transported to the warehouse, the place she was stripped and cavity searched, in accordance with the swimsuit, which was filed within the U.S. District Courtroom for the Center District of Louisiana.

It was unclear from the paperwork why Ms. Brown, who was along with her husband, was pulled over within the first place.

She was held on the warehouse for greater than two hours earlier than being launched with out being charged, in accordance with the swimsuit, which recognized the officers as Troy Lawrence Jr. and Matthew Wallace. One other feminine officer, who was not named, was additionally concerned, in accordance with the criticism.

Officer Lawrence, who was described in court docket paperwork as having an “intensive document of injuring members of the general public,” resigned on Aug. 29, tv station WAFB reported.

He was charged on Thursday with battery in reference to a separate incident on Aug. 8, wherein he’s accused of utilizing a stun gun on a handcuffed male topic earlier than he may adjust to verbal orders, the Baton Rouge Police Division mentioned on Facebook.

The warehouse, run by the Road Crimes Unit of the Baton Rouge Police Division, was closed in latest weeks after allegations much like these raised by Ms. Brown got here to gentle, in accordance with the paperwork.

On Friday, the F.B.I. opened a civil rights investigation into the allegations, saying it was primarily based on “allegations that members of the division might have abused their authority.”

In a press release, the Baton Rouge Police Division confirmed the F.B.I. investigation, including that Murphy J. Paul Jr., the police chief, had met with the F.B.I. and requested its assist to “guarantee an impartial evaluation of those complaints.”

“The Baton Rouge Police Division is dedicated to addressing these troubling accusations and has initiated administrative and legal investigations,” the division mentioned, noting that the Road Crimes Unit was “disbanded and reassigned.”

In response to Ms. Brown’s lawsuit, the officers switched off their physique cameras and searched her with no warrant, possible trigger or consent.

“They weren’t performing as rogue officers once they sexually humiliated Mrs. Brown; fairly, they had been merely finishing up official BRPD coverage,” court docket information mentioned.

One other lawsuit, filed on Aug. 29 in the identical court docket, mentioned that Officers Lawrence and Wallace, in addition to one other officer, Joseph Carboni, beat a 21-year-old man so badly that he needed to be handled at a hospital for damaged bones and different accidents.

The person, Jeremy Lee, was arrested in entrance of a home in Baton Rouge on Jan. 9 and detained “with out cheap suspicion or possible trigger,” in accordance with court docket information.

Police handcuffed Mr. Lee and compelled him down on a avenue close to the home, the place they pulled down his pants to go looking him and, regardless of Mr. Lee’s insistence that he was being harm, proceeded to shove and throw him round, in accordance with the criticism.

Officers Lawrence and Wallace, who continuously muted or switched off their physique cameras throughout the interplay, then took Mr. Lee to the “Courageous Cave,” the place they had been joined by Officer Carboni, the court docket papers mentioned.

The three “repeatedly kicked and punched” Mr. Lee, in accordance with the criticism.

“Mr. Lee’s screams for assist and screams in ache might be heard all through the power,” court docket paperwork mentioned, noting that the officers “laughed at and mocked” him for his ache.

The officers switched off their physique cameras earlier than the beating, which left Mr. Lee with a fractured rib and visual injury to his face, in accordance with the paperwork. Mr. Lee was not charged with any legal wrongdoing.

Neither the Baton Rouge Police Division nor the Southern States Police Benevolent Affiliation responded to questions on whether or not or not the officers concerned in each Ms. Brown and Mr. Lee’s circumstances had been dealing with disciplinary actions.

Mr. Lawrence and Officers Carboni and Wallace couldn’t be reached for touch upon Sunday night time. Mayor Sharon Weston Broome additionally couldn’t be reached.

In response to the lawsuit filed on behalf of Ms. Brown, the “Courageous Cave” was not a jail or detention facility however fairly a warehouse adopted as the house base of the Road Crimes Unit.

“It’s a place the place BRPD takes suspects to interrogate them, collect intelligence and try and ‘flip’ them to start cooperating with BRPD,” the criticism states.

In a news conference last month, Chief Paul mentioned he was “conscious of the power” and referred to the warehouse as a “narcotics processing heart” however mentioned he had been unaware of its nickname.

The lawsuits observe different allegations of misconduct within the Baton Rouge Police Division, which got here beneath scrutiny in 2016 after the deadly capturing of a 37-year-old Black man, Alton Sterling.

Officers had been additionally discovered to have violated division coverage once they strip-searched a teenager in 2021. The identical yr, an internal investigation of the division’s narcotics unit led to legal prices and inside self-discipline for the officers concerned.

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