I-Team: High-ranking sheriff's deputy shoves police officer duri - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

I-Team: High-ranking sheriff's deputy issued summons for shoving police officer


Police officers pulled out their tasers and nearly used them on an off-duty high-ranking sheriff's deputy after he shoved one of them at a traffic stop and it was all caught on an officer's dash camera.

Maj. Ronnie Graham of the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office was issued a misdemeanor summons for simple battery in the incident.

The stop happened in the city limits of Brusly on Sunday after 7 p.m. Officer Charlie Zalfen with the Brusly Police Department was on patrol when he saw a white Ford Mustang with only one working headlight. Zalfen pulled over the car on West St. Francis Street near Alexander Ball Park.

Zalfen asked the driver to step to the back of the vehicle. After the driver stepped to the rear of the car, a woman in the passenger seat got out and started walking towards the officer's police car. In the incident report, Zalfen stated he asked the woman three times to get back in her car but she continued walking towards him.

"I stepped out my patrol car and the passenger met me at my driver's side door," Zalfen wrote in his incident report. "At this time, I informed the passenger that I was detaining her for my safety. The passenger told me she was Nancy Graham, Maj. Ronnie Graham's wife. I attempted to place handcuffs on Mrs. Graham and Mrs. Graham pulled away. I grabbed Mrs. Graham by her left wrist and turned her around and placed the handcuffs on Mrs. Graham."

Graham has been with the West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office for nearly 30 years and currently is the chief of uniform patrol. Graham was not in the car that was stopped. His wife, daughter and his daughter's boyfriend were in the car. Graham's family called him at home to go to the scene after his wife ended up handcuffed by Zalfen. Graham had someone drive him to the scene, and when he arrived, he was furious.

"What the **** you put her in handcuffs for?" asked Graham.
"Whenever she got out of her vehicle, I told her to get back in her vehicle. I don't know this lady," said Zalfen.

The major's wife then explained she was just trying to tell the cops who she is, the wife of Maj. Ronnie Graham.

"Whenever I tell her to get back in the vehicle, she needs to obey my commands. She did not. She kept coming toward my vehicle," said Zalfen.

Zalfen said after he warned her three times to get back in the car and she refused, he handcuffed her.

"Do I look that damn threatening to you? You know what? It doesn't matter. Ronnie, let's go," said the wife.

She tried to get her husband, the major, to leave but he stayed put. It's then that the major appears to notice the Addis police officer for the first time standing near him.  

"Don't sneak up on me like that," said Graham.

"Shut up," said Addis officer Chris Hogan.  

That's when Graham is caught on camera shoving Hogan.  It's why the Addis and Brusly officers both pulled out tasers and nearly used them on the off-duty major. The major called them a choice word and the shouting intensified. Minutes later, the major's boss, Sheriff Mike Cazes, was called and arrived on the scene. The officers started explaining to the sheriff what happened, but when Maj. Ronnie Graham started chiming in, the sheriff seemed to have had enough.

"Get him in the vehicle," said Cazes. "Hear me, directive order, get in my ******* vehicle and shut up."

With the major in the vehicle, the sheriff spoke to the Brusly and Addis officers suggesting that Maj. Ronnie Graham had been drinking and that everyone should just hurry and clear the scene.

"Has alcohol ever gotten a hold of you? I know him. I know he's very hot tempered. He's very red neck. We are all in the same boat. That's his wife. You can appreciate that. But what my point is is that the quicker we clear the scene, we're better off," Cazes explained.

They did clear the scene. Three days later, the sheriff's office was actually the law enforcement agency to file charges. Deputies got an arrest warrant and issued Graham with a misdemeanor summons for simple battery. No ticket were issued for the traffic violation that started it all, the burned out headlight.

Cazes said there is an internal affairs investigation into the matter and the administrative action, if any, will reflect the results of that investigation.

Maj. Ronnie Graham said he has hired an attorney and any questions should be directed to his lawyer. A call to the attorney was not returned.

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