I-TEAM: Council members call for police chief to resign after explosive Brave Cave hearing; councilman calls second hearing
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Three East Baton Rouge metro councilmembers have called for the immediate resignation of Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul following an emotional outburst from the chief during Wednesday night’s council meeting.
During that meeting, members were discussing the infamous “brave cave” and accusations of abuse at the hands of some officers inside the facility which have been detailed in numerous WAFB I-Team reports.
In response to some council member’s comments, Paul gave an impassioned speech and seemed to show his frustration, calling out some council members by name.
Councilwoman Amoroso published a letter Thursday evening calling for the chief to step down and lambasting him for an outburst in which he accused council members of meeting privately to have him fired.
Aaron Moak and Jennifer Racca released a joint statement to Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s office Thursday evening also calling for the chief to resign immediately.
“What happened yesterday in the council meeting was totally uncalled for,” said Moak. “The accusations that were thrown out, that’s what took it over the edge for me and I felt like if you’re going to have a code of conduct in your own department and you don’t follow those same code of conduct, then it’s time for a resignation and or termination.”
Paul announced in July his plans to resign at the end of the year, but Moak still wants the chief out now.
“Whether it’s one day left, or a year left, or 10 years left, you can’t dismiss what happened at the council meeting last night,” said Moak.
However, Councilwoman Chauna Banks once again defended Chief Paul, and called the letters “ridiculous.”
“It’s totally ridiculous, and it’s basically more of the same of what the chief has had to, and I use this strongly, endured,” said Banks.
Banks believes it makes no sense to ask Paul to leave in the middle of multiple ongoing investigations into the department.
“You stand and you say you’ve had enough, but right in the middle of an investigation you call for the very person that’s leading these efforts to either resign or to be fired. That is a misnomer, and it doesn’t make sense,” said Banks.
Moak said he has not spoken to the mayor nor Chief Paul since his comments.
“The public saw it, it was in a public forum, and it was wrong,” said Moak.
At the same time, a second meeting on the widening investigation into the Baton Rouge Police Department’s Brave Cave is being called by Metro Councilman Cleve Dunn.
Dunn told the WAFB I-TEAM that he hoped to add the hearing to the council’s agenda for its next meeting in two weeks.
At the first meeting Wednesday night police chief Murphy Paul angrily addressed council members who he says have blocked efforts to reform the department.
Mayor Sharon Weston Broome addressed the chief’s comments for the first time in a statement Thursday afternoon.
“The outpouring of passion during last night’s council meeting underscores the desire and necessity within our community and its leadership to move Baton Rouge towards a brighter future, firmly rooted in the best interests of our citizens. As we confront these challenges, it is important that we hold to our core values of civility and decorum. The manner in which we conduct ourselves in these interactions not only serves as a testament to our individual integrity but also sculpts the very essence of the Baton Rouge community,” said Broome.
The mayor’s spokesman added, “if you have observed the mayor over her career, you’ll know that decorum is very important to her.”
A frustrated chief Paul addressed the council Wednesday night after councilmembers asked him to recuse himself from the department’s investigations into the secretive interrogation site known as the Brave Cave. He said the council had taken actions that limited his ability to uphold the discipline decisions that he handed down to his officers.
“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine were under investigation. Then there’s an appeal, and what do you all do? You strip my funding,” said Paul. “Ya’ll sit here trying to deal off these people’s emotions, and some of y’all the problem, Jenn Racca. You sit here, and defund the police departments from a legal standpoint, and then come here because I don’t have legal representation and I have to play lawyer to fight these bad actors.”
He went on to accuse council members of holding backroom meetings in an effort to have him removed from his role. Racca and Moak, who the chief named specifically, both denied any involvement in a scheme to get the chief fired.
The chief also made claims that members of the Municipal Civil Service Board - the board where his disciplinary decisions can be upheld or overturned - were “in the pocket” of the Baton Rouge Union of Police. Board chairman Brandon Williams said he was unaware of the chief’s claims and could not provide comment.
The union released a statement addressing the chief’s claims which you can read here.
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