WEST BATON ROUGE PARISH, La. (WAFB) - Lori Wright’s legal team is disgusted after her attorneys claim video of an incident with the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office she recorded on her phone July 17 is gone.
”We only have two pictures and three videos,” said attorney, Ron Haley. “The three videos lasted a total of four seconds. What does that tell you? It tells you that the files were deleted.”
Wright says she was recording her son’s arrest after he led deputies on a chase that ended at the Raxx night club in Erwinville. While she does not excuse her son’s actions, Wright says the way Deputy Vance Matranga treated her that night is unacceptable.
“I’ve never been arrested in my life and I’ve never gone through anything like it,” said Wright.
The woman claims she was roughed up by the deputy, leaving a few bruises on her face. Her phone was then taken and held by the sheriff’s office for three weeks. It was not until the 9News Investigators got involved that WAFB learned her phone had been handed over to the Attorney General’s Office. Four days after WAFB’s Scottie Hunter started asking questions, she finally got it back, but there’s not much left.
”I’m disappointed again because the community definitely needs to be able to have confidence that our officers are going to be fair when it comes to investigations and just in their interaction with citizens,” said attorney, Ashley Greenhouse.
Surveillance video from the Raxx night club shows Wright when she says she was recording the two deputies. Two of them came up to her that night before one of them takes her phone. Another video recorded by Wright’s other son shows Deputy Matranga appearing to record the woman as another deputy tries to explain why they were taking her phone as evidence. Later, Matranga appears to be using the phone and smiling.
Wright’s attorneys call the deputy’s actions immature and senseless. Attorney, Franz Borghardt, who is not involved in the case, says the entire situation is troubling.
”Sometimes the absence of evidence can be evidence,” Borghardt said. “We want to be able to trust the police and candidly, when the police don’t put themselves in a position to be trusted, that brings us all concern.”
Because the agency does not have body cameras, whatever was recorded on Wright’s phone could be the best possible evidence of what happened. When WAFB reached out to the sheriff’s office during the first week of August, a spokesman said an initial review of the phone’s records by the Attorney General’s Office revealed nothing had been deleted.
”The optics of that look horrible for the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office,” said Borghardt. “I’m not accusing the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office of doing anything to the cell phone, but I have a concern as a citizen as to the integrity and the preservation of that piece of evidence.”
A spokesman with the sheriff’s office says they’re still waiting on an official report from the Attorney General’s Office in the following statement:
“We, too, are very concerned about these allegations. We will know more once we have the full report from the Attorney General’s office and all findings will be turned over to the district attorney.”
Wright’s team is now working with a forensic analyst to find out if they can recover any videos and while they wait for those results, they believe something here just isn’t right.
”If there was nothing on the phone that she recorded, why in the hell did you take the phone? Why?” Haley questioned.
It’s unclear how soon the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office will have the full report form the Attorney General’s Office in this case.
Click here to read an open letter from Haley’s office about the case.
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