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A series of violent acts at Earth Day have prompted an internal affairs investigation within the Baton Rouge Police Department.
Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. confirms there were a multiple fights and even gunshots at the festival, which was attended by thousands. He explains that the violent incidents seem to be a trend that has occurred at the festival over recent years.
"In the past few years our department has responded to an increasing number of incidents at this event – in fact, yesterday's event included a shooting that is currently under investigation," he explained.
A 4-minute video showing several of those incidents has been posted to YouTube (GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING: Click here to view that video.)
Among the incidents being investigated is one involving a possibly questionable arrest that was also captured on video.
"It has also come to our attention that there was an incident at yesterday's event involving a young man and one of our officers," Chief Dababie added. "While we cannot speak yet to the context in which this incident occurred, we can assure you that we are treating the situation with the utmost care and concern as we initiate an Internal Affairs Investigation."
The video was sent to the police department by several members of the media after it was circulated heavily on social media. Prior to that, no formal complaint had been filed with the internal affairs division.
The video was recorded Sunday, April 17 and shows multiple Baton Rouge Police Officers arresting a young man. The individual is on the ground being restrained by two officers. One officer is then seen punching the 16-year-old male in the head.
The teen was arrested and booked into the juvenile detention center for battery on an officer along with resisting a police officer with force or violence.
The incident involving the battery of an officer was not shown in the video.
"Events like LA Earth Day are meant to help our community unite with a shared mission, not to provide opportunities for violence," said Chief Dabadie. "As a department, it is our role to protect and serve our community, and as we investigate yesterday's events, we intend to ensure that, moving forward, we respond to violent acts by attendees like what we witnessed yesterday responsibly and to the best of our ability."
Former state lawmaker and current mayoral candidate Sharon Weston Broome issued a statement regarding the video recording of the arrest. She says the video further reinforces the need for the outfitting of full police department with body cameras.
"Police body cameras represent a new tool law enforcement can use at their disposal to better protect the public, ensure more police accountability and transparency as well as a protective measure for the police," she said. "Other police departments across the country are taking advantage of this new technology that has been shown to deter inappropriate conduct from police officers while documenting when force is needed in crisis situations."
The Baton Rouge Police Department current outfits roughly 100 of its more than 600 police officers as part of a pilot program.