THE INVESTIGATORS: DA drops more drug cases tied to potential corruption within BRPD
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - District Attorney Hillar Moore’s office has dropped even more drug cases tied directly to potential corruption within the narcotics division with BRPD.
Last month, 640 cases were dropped by the office, ranging from possession to weapons charges dating back as far as 2015. All of those cases that were dropped were handled by officers Jeremiah Ardoin and Jason Acree. Both men were charged after departmental investigations seemed to expose corruption within the agency. Now 72 additional cases have been dropped by the DA’s office. Those include cases that date back to as far as 2017 and involved cases as recent as January 2021. All of these dropped cases were also handled by officers Ardoin and Acree.
Moore’s office released the following statement on Monday, April 26:
“My office recognizes the seriousness of the allegations involved. We believe transparency and accountability to our community are values that must inform and guide our decision making process. It is important to note that the investigation regarding the Baton Rouge City Police Narcotics Unit is ongoing and the exact nature, extent and scope of the review process will not be fully known until BRPD completes its investigation. We are encouraged by the interest and assistance we have received from the public so far and look forward to working with and keeping our community informed about the results of the investigation and any future case review process.”
These additional cases have been dropped more than a month after four high-ranking detectives within the narcotics division were reassigned.
Those four supervisors who were reassigned to uniform patrol include Sgt. Drew White, Lt. Jeff Pittman, Sgt. Shane Mouch and Sgt. Seht Sinclair. The four men that were transferred have not been accused of any wrongdoing.
“This is just part of the experience of being within the criminal justice system; there are some bad apples,” said Jarrett Ambeau, a criminal defense attorney. “And those people who are in the positions of power that officers have and are a bad apple, you affect the liberty of individuals every single day.”
This comes as leaders with the NAACP are calling for the formation of a community oversight committee to review every case handed by the narcotics division.
“We cannot trust the District Attorney’s Office alone to do this review,” said Alaina Bloodworth, social justice chair with the Baton Rouge NAACP.
Bloodworth spoke at a news conference just moments after the 9News Investigators uncovered more cases would be dropped. She said while that is great, more work needs to be done.
“We believe that’s a great start but the problem is I don’t know how many cases these officers touched,” said Bloodworth.
With more than 700 cases now dropped, allegations are swirling that some officers may have planted drugs on innocent people and routinely targeted urban neighborhoods.
“As we take a deeper dive into this, we’re finding that this officer Acree just did too much,” said Baton Rouge NAACP president Eugene Collins. “At this point, we can’t even speak to how long this has been going on. We just know that Mr. Acree has been doing this for a long time.”Advocates argue the job is simply too big for the District Attorney to take on by himself and they want a seat at the table as every single case the officers had their hands on are fully reviewed.
“We’re going to continue to push for this oversight committee to ensure that every case attached to this criminal cop is dropped,” said Collins.
“This hopefully will be a start of reform here in Louisiana,” Bloodworth added.
A spokesman with the Baton Rouge Police Department issued the following statement to WAFB.
“While we recognize the interest of the community to ensure fairness and justice for all citizens, we can’t lose sight that this investigation was initiated from within the Department and investigated by BRPD investigations, thereby affirming the uncompromising commitment of our agency to transparency, accountability, and integrity. We’re working very closely with District Attorney Hillar Moore concerning ongoing investigations involving the narcotics section. We will provide a full report of our investigative findings once the criminal investigations conclude. We are eager to engage in community dialogue with citizens and groups to address their concerns and discuss steps moving forward.”
The District Attorney’s Office released the following statement to WAFB.
“My office recognizes the seriousness of the allegations involved. We believe transparency and accountability to our community are values that must inform and guide our decision-making process. It is important to note that the investigation regarding the Baton Rouge City Police Narcotics Unit is ongoing and the exact nature, extent and scope of the review process will not be fully known until BRPD completes its investigation. We are encouraged by the interest and assistance we have received from the public so far and look forward to working with and keeping our community informed about the results of the investigation and any future case review process.”
Ardoin and Acree are both currently on administrative leave pending the outcome of their cases.
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