City launches legal fight against law professor who released video of officers strip-searching teen
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Shocking search video showing an invasive police search of a minor in Baton Rouge is making the rounds again. The case ended in a settlement with the city but now the law professor who released the video facing fire from parish attorneys as this spirals into another court fight. Three weeks after the video was made public showing BRPD officers strip search a 16-year-old and his brother before entering the young men’s home without a warrant, the parish attorney’s office now wants the law professor who put the video out locked up.
“I just don’t understand why the parish attorney’s office is doing this,” said attorney Franz Borghardt.
According to a petition, the Parish Attorney’s Office went to a juvenile judge saying Thomas Frampton should be held in contempt for releasing the video without a court order. Attorney Borghardt believes that might not have been necessary especially because there’s no open juvenile court case tied to this.
“It’s going to be a question for a juvenile court judge to determine whether or not you need to in a case that’s not pending before her court,” said Borghardt.
The 9News Investigators were first to air the video after the city paid the family $35,000 to make a federal lawsuit go away. During the search, officers found a gun and drugs on the teen and his brother. In the petition, the parish attorney argues the release of the video was edited, did not accurately show what happened and adds that the city has gotten a lot of negative feedback from the public. Attorney Borghardt says while it may make the city look bad, that’s really not the point.
“This is really bad optics, really bad messaging and I think the focus should be on the conduct of the officers. I don’t think it should be on us knowing about the conduct,” said Borghardt.
The ACLU of Louisiana agrees. Nora Ahmed, legal director for the group, says this sends the wrong message especially from a city and police department that claims to be big on transparency.
“This was an unfortunate circumstance for BRPD apparently and that’s the reason they filed the petition but that doesn’t seem to be a good reason to file the petition and it doesn’t seem as though the petition that they filed has been filed in an appropriate jurisdiction,” said Ahmed.
BRPD chief Murphy Paul first talked about the matter two weeks ago and took aim at how reporters handled the story.
“The desire for you to want information right now can sometimes undermine the value of being right,” said Chief Paul during that news conference.
Because it is more than a year old, the 9News Investigators had questions about why no officers had been put on leave or punished for what happened. Nothing had been said publicly about the case until the video was made public.
Scottie: “This happened almost 17 months ago. Would we be here talking about that video or this incident if that video had not come out?”
Chief Paul: “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.”
Borghardt says it’s a bad move for the petition and the chief to seemingly blame the media for their reporting of the situation.
“I think it’s a terrible move,” Borghardt added. “Blaming the media for covering something that is newsworthy is a poor way of addressing the issue. I suspect the bigger issue is police misconduct.”
At the news conference, BRPD was having internet issues. They showed a version of the video they claimed gave a clearer picture of what really happened but then things took a little turn. Officials with the agency promised to release it but two weeks later and they still haven’t.
The 9News Investigators have asked for the video again, and as of now, it’s still on hold as the department and the city fight to silence the man who made sure the public saw the video.
“The chief has been advocating and the mayor has been advocating for transparency so when we have transparency, what happens? We file a contempt of court with a court to hold someone accountable for giving us transparency. That’s mixed messages,” Borghardt added.
The parish attorney and the police department were quick to tell WAFB’s Scottie Hunter they would not be talking about the issue because of the pending litigation. As for an update on when they plan to hand over the video, that is still pending.
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