The Investigators: Good Ol' Boys in Greensburg

The Investigators: Good Ol' Boys in Greensburg

GREENSBURG, LA (WAFB) - When a newly elected mayor asks a police chief questions about an arrest he's about to make, what is the chief supposed to do? Does he/she make the arrest or not?

It's a decision Greensburg Police Chief Tim Brown in St. Helena Parish had to make.

"Don't touch me," said a woman as she placed a 911 call.

The 9News Investigators obtained the 911 call the woman made on March 14th, while talking to the suspect and waiting on dispatch to answer the call.

Victim: "That's your last time putting your hands on me."
Dispatch: "Tangipahoa Parish 911, what's your emergency?"
Victim: "I need a police at 21 under the Hill."
Operator: "What's going on?"
Victim: "I just been choked and, and, and everything else."

The call came from the small town of Greensburg in St. Helena Parish.

Dispatch: "What's going on?"
Victim: "I just been choked by my baby daddy and I am tired of him putting his hands on me. I'm tired of it."

Tarran Love, 29, is the man accused of putting his hands on her.

Because it's a small town, one police officer and police chief Tim Brown responded to the call. But it's what police say happened at the scene when officers went to arrest Love that now has a district attorney's office reviewing the case.

According to the incident report, the suspect's mother told police, "her son Tarran Love physically beat his child's mother."

When questioning the victim, she said "Tarran Love choked her while they were arguing about their child."

When officers placed Love in handcuffs, the victim said she did not want to pursue charges despite her calling 911. She just wanted to leave, but per Louisiana law, in a domestic violence case, law enforcement must pursue the charges and arrest the suspect.

That's when, according to the report, one of Love's friends started interfering saying he was going to "call the new mayor Willie Hurst and started verbally abusing Chief Brown saying ('When the new mayor takes office your ass will be gone. You will not have a job with your no good ass. You just want to **** over people. I bet you $100 to a bucket of **** you will not be chief when the new mayor takes office.')"

According to documents, that's when Mayor-Elect Willie Hurst arrived at the scene and asked the police chief if the victim had any marks on her. That's when the chief responded that in a domestic violence case, regardless if the victim wants to pursue charges or not, the police department and the town will. That's when the mayor-elect started to leave.

Sources said the mayor-elect repeatedly asked the police chief if there was any way to get around making an arrest in the case.

Despite that, Love was still arrested and charged with one count of domestic abuse battery.

Kiran: "Was the police chief in the right to arrest this person?"
Phares: "A police officer, whether it's the chief or an officer or deputy responding has got to make his or her decision based on probable cause and public safety, not on any political consideration or political interference."

Hurst was elected mayor just two months ago, replacing outgoing Mayor Burke Jones. Hurst will not take office until Dec. 1st.

We asked former chief investigator with the Inspector General's Office Greg Phares about the case.

"You can't make an arrest decision based on any sort of good ol' boy or friendship consideration. It has to be based on probable cause," said Phares.

Phares was also a former police chief, who was appointed by a mayor, just like the police chief in Greensburg is appointed by the mayor and said he understands the political pressures.

Kiran: "Should a mayor interfere in police work?"
Phares: "Not to the extent, mayor certainly helps set policy because he or she ultimately is responsible for the safety of that city among many other responsibilities but as to a decision whether to arrest or not arrest, that's the facts in front of the police officer, not considerations that might go on above him."

Because of the newly elected mayor's alleged involvement in this case, the 21st JDC district attorney's office is now reviewing the facts, deciding whether to take it before a grand jury. The entire incident was captured on both the officer and police chief's body cameras, including the entire conversation.

"That's why it's called law enforcement because we enforce the law. We don't make them and we don't interpret them. That's what the legislators do," said Phares.

Investigators would not release the body camera videos, citing an on-going case. We did reach out to District Attorney Scott Perrilloux, but did not receive a call back. We are told he is personally reviewing the case and deciding whether to hand it off to the State Police.

We also reached out to Mayor-Elect Willie Hurst. He refused to comment.

Another wrinkle to this case is the current mayor has resigned effective June 2nd. No word yet on whether the council will appoint Hurst as mayor earlier than scheduled or appoint someone else.

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