The Investigators: Federal trial set to begin for BRPD officer accused of using excessive force

The Investigators: Federal trial set to begin for BRPD officer accused of using excessive force
Published: Feb. 29, 2016 at 8:24 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 29, 2016 at 11:00 PM CST
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(Source: Brett Percle)
(Source: Brett Percle)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - WARNING: This story contains graphic images that may not be suitable for some readers. 

A federal trial is set to begin for a Baton Rouge police officer accused of knocking out someone's teeth.

As the Investigators reported in October 2015, it was one of several excessive force cases lodged against the police department. However, they rarely make it to court.

Brett Percle said he was visiting friends at their home on Lila Street in Baton Rouge on June 11, 2014.

"We were working on music there. We had various instruments in that house," Percle said.

Percle said he was editing music on a computer when suddenly there was a knock at the door. The Baton Rouge Police Department special response team was there to search the house for marijuana, according to a warrant.

"They came to us with the machine guns pointed at us, screaming to everyone to get onto the ground," Percle said.

Percle said one of the officers forced him to the ground, then stomped the back of his head.

"The kick caused my face to go into the ground. One of my teeth was completely de-rooted and three of my teeth were shattered," Percle said.

Pictures obtained by the Investigators showed the damage Percle said was caused by Baton Rouge police officer Robert Moruzzi's actions on that day. Percle said Moruzzi and the other officers denied him medical attention and instead made fun of him.

"As I'm sitting, choking on my teeth, the blood is literally turning into a puddle, they are sitting there playing they drums," Percle said.

Percle said when officers escorted him out of the house, he was met by more ridicule.

"One person called me a jack-o-lantern. It's all happening at once. Is this real life? Is this reality? Things like this don't happen to normal people, I thought. All I could think was, this can't be real," Percle said.

Percle was never charged with anything.

He said he called to file a complaint with the BRPD Internal Affairs department, but his calls were not returned. So he hired attorney Kearney Loughlin.

"Simply stomping someone's head and kicking his teeth out is unreasonable," Loughlin said.

Loughlin said after researching the case, he learned Moruzzi was the only officer who had contact with his client. He also learned Moruzzi was fired in 2009 for allegedly getting drunk and hitting someone at a bar when he was off duty. The civil service board overturned that decision and Moruzzi instead got a 90-day suspension.

"The proof we are using for the basis of that is that Mr. Moruzzi was fired and found unfit to be a police officer," Loughlin said.

In an interview with the Investigators last October, Chief Carl Dabadie said the police department did not have any control over that action. The chief also defended the fact Moruzzi is now on the city's SRT, or SWAT, team.

"He served his time, did his part, and now he is able to apply for things that he qualifies for," Dabadie said.

"I don't see anything in his background that qualifies him to continue to do what he does," Loughlin said.

After surgery and medical treatment, Percle has healed physically, but the emotional wounds are still fresh.

"You have anger issues. You're angry at police, angry at government, at people who I feel like turned their back on me," Percle said.

Percle and his attorney want Moruzzi and the Baton Rouge Police Department to pay for his medical bills, but they also hope the chief will hold Moruzzi accountable.

The case is set to go to trial in federal court on Monday, March 7.

In court filings, the police department disputes Percle's claims. However, they declined comment for this report.

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