BRPD seeks to renew trust after strip search incident
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul again sought to renew trust in his department’s handling of misconduct cases against its officers Friday, May 28.
The chief made his first public comments about footage first aired on WAFB of two young men who were essentially strip-searched on a public street during a January 2020 broad-daylight traffic stop.
“Tensions are high in America. Recent events involving police misconduct....makes it to our front door. It agitates existing trauma,” said Paul. “It’s imperative that we get it right so that we can make the decision if a police officer no longer deserves to wear the badge.”
The video shows an officer pull back underwear to expose the 16-year-old and his 23-year-old brother, Clarence Green’s genitals.
As Green tells the officer he’s not allowed to do that to him, the officer is heard saying, “I can.”
Baton Rouge police leaders say the officers were searching the young man’s body for drugs.
An attorney for the Green family says that’s because the officers stopped the young men in front of what officers identified as a “known drug house.”
But it’s what happened afterward that’s raising further concern about the incident.
Paul says officers took the teen home instead of booking him into prison, hoping to bring him back to his mother.
After a 16-minute wait at the family’s front door went unanswered, officers walked in with guns drawn under the premise of a welfare check on the mother.
The officers did not have a warrant to enter the home.
They eventually met with the mom and found guns inside, then moved their questioning to the front lawn.
The video shows officers outside 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.
The chief did hold a hearing with one of the officers in April about the encounter at the home. He found the officer violated three department policies, including conduct unbecoming of an officer, violation of body cam policy and carrying out orders in warrantless searches.
But no officers have been disciplined and none have been put on leave.
Paul acknowledged for the first time Friday that this is not the first time officers entered a home without a warrant. Agency leaders are also investigating two other warrantless searches from 2019 and 2017.
As for the strip search, no violations have been found by the agency as they continue to investigate.
“We have demonstrated our commitment to this community and it’s critical that our police officers adhere by department policy,” said Paul.
The case has come to light 17-months later after the East Baton Rouge city-parish leaders settled with the family in court.
Paul said the case and video weren’t brought to light prior to the settlement because the department is still investigating. He shot down claims the department was seeking to withhold information about the incident by saying the department always planned to release the videos.
“Absolutely we would have. We would have done it at the appropriate and the right time when all the facts were presented to us. Yes we would have,” said Paul.
A spokesman at the Baton Rouge Police Department says more video of the incident could not be made public the same day it was shown at the press conference due to technical issues.
The video will not be released until the following week, the spokesperson said.
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