Body camera video shows BRPD officer strip search teen during traffic stop
City of Baton Rouge reaches settlement with teen’s family
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - In body camera video obtained by the 9News Investigators, a Baton Rouge police officer can be seen strip-searching a 16-year-old and his older brother during a traffic stop in broad daylight.
The body camera video is uncomfortable to watch in parts, as officers grab the genitals of the 16-year-old and his older brother, Clarence Green. As Green tells the officer he’s not allowed to grab him in that way, the officer is heard saying, “I can.”
One of the officers can then be seen doing the same to the 16-year-old, pulling up his shirt and snatching down his underwear while they grab around.
Baton Rouge police officers were looking for drugs on New Year’s Day in 2020 when they stopped the two men.
Body Camera Video Obtained By The 9News Investigators
An attorney for the Green family told WAFB’s Scottie Hunter the officers stopped the young men in front of what the officers identified as a “known drug house” in initial incident reports.
Officers then showed up at Green’s home to take the teen to his mother. The attorney identified one of the officers as Sgt. Ken Camallo. The attorney said Camallo and other officers entered the home with guns drawn and without a warrant. The attorney said the mics on the body cameras were muted.
Outside, the video shows officers try to convince the mother to get a DNA swab from the teen. As Green tells his mother to call an attorney, officers pick a fight.
“If you don’t shut the f---k up, I’m going to come in and I’m going to f----k you up,” one officer can be heard yelling at Green.
“I’m talking to my mama,” Green responded.
“No, you’re causing a disturbance. You think I’m playing with you? I will f—k you up,” the officer said.
Green was locked up for a gun officers found during the search. He sat behind bars for several months until the charges were dropped. Legal expert Thomas Frampton represents the family. He calls just about everything the officers did during the traffic stop, “troubling.”
“In the course of about 90 minutes, these officers commit at least a half-dozen criminal offenses themselves,” said Frampton.
Frampton was able to fight for the family in court by filing a federal lawsuit against the city, the Baton Rouge Police Department, and the officers involved. That case was dismissed last week after the city paid the family a $35,000 settlement.
Frampton said that’s still not enough.
“I think that the family really wants accountability, and accountability is never going to come through money alone,” said Frampton.
State Representative Ted James also weighed in, saying while the family was able to get compensated for what happened, he believes the problem lies with what’s called qualified immunity. Under that provision, officers do not pay settlement fees. Instead, taxpayers will have to pay up. James weighed in on a bill introduced by Representative Edmond Jordan during the 2021 legislative session to change that.
VIDEO: Attorney discusses qualified immunity for police officers following release of troubling body camera video
“Officers escape liability and what happens is we, the community, continues to have to pay those lawsuits,” said James. “And without consequences, it’s just like my little girl. If I don’t establish some type of consequences, she’s not going to correct that behavior and right now, we have a culture in our state, in our city, and across the country where largely officers are escaping any type of responsibility.”
The 9News Investigators reached out to leaders at the Baton Rouge Police Department to inquire if Sgt. Camallo or any of the other officers involved have been disciplined. A spokesman said the case is still under review.
The spokesman also confirmed Sgt. Camallo remains on the force and has not been placed on leave pending the outcome of that review.
Frampton said even though this case has been settled, taxpayers will continue to be on the hook if something like this is allowed to happen.
“The fact that you are here in May [of] 2021, after the city has already paid out a civil rights settlement, and nothing has happened is deeply concerning. I didn’t learn until your news report at noon today that Sgt. Camallo is still walking the streets and frankly that does worry me. The Metro Council is more than happy to use taxpayer funds to make civil rights lawsuits go away but it’s deeply disturbing that when it comes to actually taking action against the wrongdoers involved, there seems to be a lot greater reluctance,” Frampton explained.
Representative James agrees.
“We have ignored this systemic problem for far too long,” said James.
BRPD spokesman Sgt. L’Jean McKneely, Jr. says, in light of this incident, the department is reviewing its search policy to see if any changes need to be made.
“We will continue to do pat-downs but the extent of further searching is under review,” said McKneely.
The spokesman said the department’s Internal Affairs Division investigated the incident to determine whether any of the officers involved should face disciplinary measures. That investigation is complete but the findings are still being reviewed by BRPD Chief Murphy Paul, the spokesman said. McKneely said, prior to the search of the private parts of the two young men, officers found narcotics on the younger male and a weapon in the waistband of the older male.
Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome issued the following statement Wednesday evening:
“Today, the very disturbing footage of an encounter between BRPD and citizens of our community was released and has justifiably raised the eyebrows of many in our community.
I stand by the federal judicial ruling in this case and the explicit and detailed judgment that was cast concerning the officers involved and their actions. While the involved individuals have received a civil remedy in this matter, the officers involved must be held accountable.
Chief Paul has briefed me that BRPD initiated an investigation when the complaint was first received. The matter is in the administrative process. We take all actions of this sort very seriously. We cannot go down a path that continues to tear at the fabric of trust between law enforcement and citizens. Transparency and accountability are a must. This week, Chief Paul plans to publicly address this case and the disciplinary path forward.”
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