I-TEAM: Officers tied to the Brave Cave remain on the streets. Could keeping them there impact court cases?

The Baton Rouge Police Department’s street crimes unit is still disbanded while the chief of police personally leads criminal and administrative investigation.
Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 10:20 AM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Baton Rouge Police Department’s street crimes unit is still disbanded while the chief of police personally leads criminal and administrative investigations into its actions. Though that unit is no longer up and running, its members are still on duty.

Mayor Sharon Weston Broome announced in August that the officers who worked street crimes were moved to patrol work as the investigations play out.

Legal experts say keeping those officers on the street could lead to challenges in court if wrongdoing is eventually uncovered.

“If they’re found to be criminally at fault, then that would affect [the] cases that they’re currently working as well, depending on what the charges would be,” explained District Attorney Hillar Moore.

Moore is leading his own review of cases touched by the street crimes unit. He says it’s too soon to say whether the investigations will reveal whether misconduct was committed by any street crimes officers.

But he added that any misconduct uncovered during the probe could end with officers facing criminal charges and credibility issues for the cases those officers were involved in.

“We have our Brady list, and we have our other types of lists for officer conduct or witness conduct,” said Moore.

A “Brady List” is maintained by most prosecutors and contains the names of officers who’ve faced conduct issues or have lied in the past. Moore explained that the past misconduct committed by officers whose names show up on his Brady list must be disclosed to defense attorneys.

“Just going forward with a judge or jury who has to weigh their testimony - that surely will impact this,” said Moore.

Chief Murphy Paul and the Baton Rouge Police communications team avoided requests to explain why officers were reassigned rather than placed on leave per their standard procedures.

A city spokesman later said the chief “asked that we respect the integrity of the active criminal and administrative investigations.” The city’s spokesman added that “Chief Paul said these details will be released at the appropriate time.”

The street crimes unit was disbanded after the WAFB I-Team exposed allegations of misconduct in a processing center known to officers as the “Brave Cave.”

A federal lawsuit alleges the facility was a “torture warehouse” that street crimes operated similarly to a “black site” for off-the-books interrogations.

Chief Paul and other BRPD leaders said the facility has been used as a processing center for some detainees and had been in operation for more than a decade. However, the chief and other leaders continue to deny any knowledge of the facility being referred to as the Brave Cave.

A different federal lawsuit says officers in the street crimes unit also performed a “sexually humiliating” strip search of a woman.

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