LSP loses newspaper’s legal challenge, produces body cam footage

LSP offers tips on what to do during a traffic stop

(WAFB) - An off-duty New Orleans police officer and a trooper with Louisiana State Police (LSP) argued over the safest place for the officer to be as the trooper wrote the officer a speeding ticket alongside a busy roadway.

The verbal exchange is shown on the trooper’s body camera footage that LSP recently released only after a judge said the agency must do so.

The Advocate newspaper took LSP to court after LSP declined the newspaper’s public records request for copy of a November 2018 traffic stop. The newspaper reports NOPD Sgt. Chantelle Davis was driving on the Westbank Expressway heading to an LSU football game when LSP Trooper Jared Taylor pulled her over for going 83 mph in a 60 mph zone.

After she is pulled over and is standing on the shoulder of a busy Westbank Expressway, Davis asks Trooper Jared Taylor if she can stand in a safer spot while he writes the ticket.

“I don’t feel safe,” she tells the trooper as she informs him she is a New Orleans police officer.

“If you work for NOPD, then you know that I’m the one who tells you where to stand,” the trooper replies.

Despite expressing concern for her safety, the officer spends much of the time alongside the roadway looking down at her cell phone. Trooper Taylor is nearly hit by a vehicle as he stepped out of his patrol car after writing the ticket, the video shows.

LSP later notified the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) about the officer’s demeanor during the traffic stop, which LSP described as “arrogant and disrespectful,” the newspaper reported.

LSP later voided the speeding ticket and allowed NOPD to handle the matter internally. When the newspaper received a tip about the incident, it filed a public records request with LSP for a copy of the trooper’s body camera footage. LSP denied the newspaper’s request, saying releasing the video would violate Davis’ “reasonable expectation of privacy.”

LSP began equipping troopers with body cameras in 2017, so the newspaper’s legal action was a new test of LSP policy. The Advocate’s attorney, Scott Sternberg, said the newspaper filed suit “to ensure that the public has access to video recorded on a camera paid for with taxpayer dollars, worn by a public servant, and which captures two police officers interacting on a public street.”

A judge with the 19th Judicial District Court, William Morvant, ordered LSP to turn over the 7-minute video after state police redacted a few portions, including when the trooper’s camera showed the sergeant’s license plate and driver’s license, the newspaper reported. LSP says any driver concerned about their safety in a particular area can reduce their speed and turn on their hazard lights to let a trooper know they are aware that a traffic stop is in progress while they proceed to a safer area.

Watch the body cam footage below.

Body camera footage of interaction between LSP Trooper Jared Taylor and NOPD Sgt. Chantelle Davis

LSP has provided a driver’s education video that teaches new drivers traffic stop etiquette, however, they say they can’t speak for what each agency’s policies are.

According to the video, any person who feels uncomfortable or unsafe with the traffic stop location can turn on their hazard lights and proceed cautiously to a better lighted or public area.

The state trooper did give the off-duty officer a ticket, which was later voided by the trooper’s supervisor at State Police Troop B.

LSP: Traffic stop etiquette

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