BRPD chief remembers police shooting one year later: 'It rips your heart out'

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A year later, the pain still runs deep for Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie.

"It rips your heart out," he said. "You flip flop between being angry and wanting to get the evil that put the person there, to feeling for the family."

It had been a trying two weeks for Baton Rouge, a city still on edge after days of protests over the Alton Sterling shooting. That Sunday morning is when Dabadie got the call. Officers were down at the B-Quik gas station on Airline Hwy.

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"The first thought I always have is who and how bad. I'm never thinking multiples, I'm thinking one person," he said.

But his worst fears would soon be realized. He rushed to the B-Quik, where no one yet knew if the threat was gone or if there were more gunmen on the loose. "It was a war zone," he said. "You had hundreds of rounds that were fired, you had five officers struck, a bad guy struck."

His next stop was arguably the most difficult: the hospital. Dabadie still gets worked up remembering the moment he first saw the family of one of his fallen officers, Cpl. Montrell Jackson.

"It was a lot of emotional embraces. Everybody's crying your eyes out. You tell them you're sorry, you tell them you're just so sorry," Dabadie said. "Again, there's really nothing you can tell them. You tell them that we're here, that we're praying for you, praying for the family."

Jackson made a plea to his community on social media just days after the Sterling shooting. In the post, he coined what would become a mantra after the shooting: "Don't let hate infect your heart."

"He loved this city, he loved his job, he loved what he did. That phrase is just Montrell," Dabadie remembered.

A year later, Baton Rouge still has a long way to go to bridge the divide and restore trust between the community and the police. The chief says they have made changes, including putting an emphasis on new training and de-escalation techniques.

"We've done a lot of the hard conversations. We've been at the table," he said. "Are we through? No. Do we have a long way to go? Yes. We're not perfect."

And for all the darkness of that day, Dabadie says there was one point of light.

"[The shooter] didn't win. He came to inflict pain, he took some of our brothers, but he didn't create hate in this community," he said.

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