THE INVESTIGATORS: BR police union calling for civil service board member to step down amid pending felony charges
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - In a scathing letter, the president of the Baton Rouge Police Union is demanding Brandon Williams, an appointed member of the local Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board, step down.
The letter cites felony warrants that were issued for him back in 2020, including for theft of property more than $25,000 and burglary of an inhabited dwelling.
The warrants were cut back in September 2020 and Williams was appointed to the board at a meeting about a month later in October 2020.
“Just to keep it clean, we think the best thing to do is to have him step back,” said Bill Profita, a spokesman with the union.
The warrants were cut back in September 2020 and Williams was appointed to the board at an East Baton Rouge Metro Council meeting about a month later. Profita is sounding the alarm. In his current role, Williams hears appeals for officers who face disciplinary action, then decides whether to uphold that decision. Profita wants to know why Williams was appointed in the first place and he questions whether the board member can be impartial when deciding the fate of officers given his past.
“We find it very hard to think that he could be fair and impartial if he’s hearing a case about a Baton Rouge Police officer when that’s the agency that had warrants for his arrest, that may have taken him into custody. It’s just not an arm’s length relationship,” explained Profita.
There are also questions over whether any of the council members who appointed him knew about those warrants and if anyone checked out Williams’ past before he was put in this position of public trust.
“It’s a small commission and so I would hope that everyone would be fully vetted,” added Profita.
“There’s what’s legally required, there’s what ethically required and there’s the appearance of impropriety and those things don’t always line up, Scottie,” said legal analyst Franz Borghardt.
According to Louisiana law, a background check has to be completed for the civil service board and a person cannot serve if they’ve been convicted of a felony. Borghardt argues, while the optics of ongoing legal trouble look bad for a sitting board member, the law may actually be on his side.
WAFB’s Scottie Hunter asked Borghardt if Williams was in the clear as long as he’s not convicted.
“He’s in that weird in-between space. He hasn’t been convicted and the law seems to indicate you have to be convicted to be removed or ineligible to be where he is. So, yeah, he’s seemingly, from a legal standpoint, he’s okay,” explained Borghardt.
Still, Profita believes the board member has to step away, at least for now.
“I am not here to throw stones at anybody. I am here to simply say this is a relationship that is untenable,” he said.
Williams is set to go to court on Aug. 2, 2022, on the theft charge against him. He told WAFB he does not plan to step down and expects to be vindicated.
You can read the full letter from the police union below:
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