BRPD lawyers refuse apology, costing taxpayers $15K

Lawyers representing the Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) refused a request for police to apologize to the victim.
Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 3:48 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 19, 2023 at 5:30 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Lawyers representing the Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) refused a request for police to apologize to the victim of a police excessive force case, a decision that ultimately cost taxpayers an additional $15,000.

The female victim agreed to reduce her $55,000 proposed settlement by $15,000 if the officer, Troy Lawrence, Jr., apologized for violating her civil rights, her attorney said. She also wanted an apology from BRPD Chief Murphy Paul.

But city-parish attorneys told her an apology would not happen.

The officer involved is the son of BRPD Deputy Chief Troy Lawrence, Sr.

Legal experts say the refusal to apologize is likely a way for BRPD and the city parish to avoid having to pay even higher settlements in the future by admitting actual wrongdoing in this case.

Shermanie Reed sued city police after Officer Troy Lawrence, Jr. violently pulled her from her car by her wrists at the scene of an October 2020 fender bender. Reed says the officer was hostile from the moment he arrived, and became violent and repeatedly cursed at her when confronted about his demeanor.

Reed says the officer told her and others at the scene of the crash to “shut the f*ck up” and go their cars. After checking to see if Reed had any outstanding warrants, the officer then allegedly returned to her vehicle and told her to “get the f*ck out,” her complaint to BRPD says.

Officer Lawrence muted his bodycam as he arrived on the scene of the crash and kept it off the entire time.

Thomas Frampton, the lawyer representing the female victim, says getting an apology from BRPD was important to his client.

However, in negotiating a settlement, East Baton Rouge Parish Director of Litigation and Risk Management Greg Rome told them an apology was off the table, emails show.

”You were correct when you told your client there probably won’t be an apology,” Rome wrote in a February 2023 email to the woman’s lawyer. “You haven’t seen me include that in any email I have sent you and you won’t. Lawsuits are about money. So, this is my last attempt because I am not going back and forth with your client. We will recommend $55,000 to the council for their approval and that’s it. No apology.

”In his response to Rome’s email, attorney Frampton said his client’s lawsuit was not solely about money. “Sometimes apologies, or commitments to do better, are just as good (if not better!), and that’s what our final offer reflects,” Frampton wrote.

The officer did, however, apologize to Chief Murphy Paul about his actions that day. After being suspended for two days without pay for Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and other violations including muting his bodycam during the incident, Lawrence promised to do better. “I acknowledge and accept full responsibility for my actions,” Lawrence wrote in a February 2021 email to Chief Paul. Lawrence also told the chief he would “like to personally apologize to you and all of the members of the BRPD for my actions that fell below the standards established by this police department.”

The city-parish paid the $55,000 settlement to Reed earlier this week.

The officer remains on the force.

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