Parents, councilwoman looking for answers in alleged pepper spray incident

Parents, councilwoman looking for answers in alleged pepper spray incident

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Both parents and police are looking for answers after a group of local high school students were allegedly pepper sprayed by an officer following a battle of the bands event.

Law enforcement still hasn't said which agency that officer works for as several departments were involved with security for the private event.

A local councilwoman is trying to help as parents and band leaders at Glen Oaks High, who are trying to figure out what happened, say they are getting the runaround.

On April 2, the band director and parents say that a group of students and parents were pepper sprayed by a security officer while trying to board a bus home.  This was after a battle of the bands event at the FG Clark Activity Center on Southern University's campus.

Councilwoman Erika Green wants answers from law enforcement.

"For the children to be leaving an extracurricular activity, get pepper sprayed, while they had sponsors, while they had a band director present with them, while their parents was with them, seems to me a little bit aggressive," Green said.

Green said a group of parents and students were about to board a bus home when an impromptu song competition broke out between Glen Oaks and another high school band in a parking lot.

The unidentified officer then allegedly demanded that the students stop playing and board the bus, and eventually the officer resorted to the pepper spray. According to Green, no one was seriously injured but a child was sent to the hospital because of asthma problems.

Gregory Mitchell, who was not present for the incident, said his son was pepper sprayed. He said parents have spoken with law enforcement, but no agency has taken responsibility.

"We just want to kind of make sure that people understand that this is not a game, these are our children and we expect them to respect law enforcement and we expect law enforcement to respect the community as well," Mitchell said.

The East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office is investigating the matter. They say their officers were helping with security along with officers from the Baton Rouge Police Department and Southern University's police. None of the agencies could say if the officer was one of theirs.

University officials did say, however, this was a private event, they were not a sponsor, and University P.D. did not file any incident reports.

Green hopes she will find out more soon.

"I would hope that before this month is out that we get some kind of statement after we determine what officers were present that day and which ones may have been involved in this," Green said.

Band director Bobby Bowman declined to comment.

The company that sponsored the event has not returned 9News' requests for comment.

The following is a statement from the Southern University:

The Battle of the Bands event held in the F.G. Clark Activity Center on April 2 was not a Southern University event. According to University Police, several local law enforcement agencies were hired to provide additional security and traffic detail. University Police has no record of any incidents related to the private event.

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